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Previous Theses in Religion

Many of the religion theses that have been awarded honors in major study can be accessed in ARMINDA, the institutional repository, and are linked individually below. Others with honors indicated are available in hard copy in the Allen Reading Room of the Penrose Library.

Class of 2020

Joel Barton, “‘Incoherence’ as Identity Capital in Modern-day Turkey”

Daniel Bassler, “No Man’s Land: Jewish and Christian Conflicts with Messianic Judaism”

Lucas Bergeson, “The Devil in the American Horror Film: A Study on the Interfacing of Religion, Myth, and Film”

Graham Dean, “Storytime: Ryōkan in Modern Japanese Children’s Stories”

Lorin DeMuth, “The ‘I’ of Hurricane Katrina: Self-Preservation in U.S. Disaster Policy”

Sam Geschickter, “Religious Discourse, Kant’s Influence, and the U.S. Financial System”

Madi Hofbauer, “Ain’t Nothing But a Jew Thang: Representing Judaism in Hip Hop”

Isabella Sherwood-Reid, “Cognitive Spaces of Untouchability: Investigating the Space between Catholic Sexual Ethics and the Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis”

Douacha Serina Vue, “The Culture of Preservation and its Impact on Hmong Funerals”

Class of 2019

Emma Gregoire, “Where There’s A Feminist Will, There’s a Rabbinic Way: Jewish-Feminist Inclusion in Jewish Bioethics”

Mary Hill, “The Phenomenon of Mass Islamic Conversion as a Quasi-Religion of the American Incarceration Complex”

Aidan Nuttall, “‘It’s something I notice, but not something that ruins my day, ever’: Religion, Athletics, and the Third-Least Religious College in America”

Class of 2018

Andrew Bainton, “Breaking Binaries: On Kanye West, Religion, and American Culture”

Kerr Ivan Cirilo (double major with Art), “Veiled Mediations: Postmodernism, Globalization and Veiled Muslim Women in Film”

Zachary Collins, “Underlying Concerns Behind Conservative Christians’ Arguments Against Marriage Equality”

Grace Fritzke, “When (That) Secularism Meets (Our) Memory Politics: Repression and Representation at Whitman College”

David Mah, “Spirituality without Religion: A Critical Analysis of The End of Faith and Waking Up by Sam Harris”

Madaline Stevens (double major with English), “The Role of Fantasy in the Study of Religion: How the House of Night Series Portrays Wicca and its Importance within the Academic Study of Religion”

Class of 2017

Caroline Burnett, “‘Creeping Shari’a’: The Presence of Islamic Law in United States Courts”

Zander Guzy-Sprague, “Set in Stone: A Site-Specific Analysis of the Relationship between Monarchs and Monastics in the Aśokan Edicts on the Girnar Rock”

Spencer Thomas, “Buddhist Women and The Existence of the Female Body Within Theravada Buddhism”

Elizabeth Thomson, “Collaborative Complexity – Cohesion of Fragmented Pluralities of ‘Religion’”

Class of 2016

Brian Acosta, “The Ground Zero Mosque and Islamophobia in the U.S. since 9/11”

Sofia Dawson, “Paradoxes of Gender and Power in the Evangelical Purity Movement”

Emma Thompson, “Nation of Islam Cosmology and Politics in Muhammad Speaks, 1960-1975”

Leda Zakarison, “Young Muslims in the U.S. Negotiating Identity through Social Media”

Class of 2015

Alissa Becerril (Double Major: BBMB), “‘For We Walk by Faith and not by Sight’: Seventh-Day Adventist Scientists and the Evolution-Creation Debate”

Madeline Levy, “The Marriage of Thought and Action: A Study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer”

Julia Saxby, “Author of His Own Auctoritas: The Intersection of Education, Episcopate. Ecclesiology and Martyrdom in Cyprian of Carthage”

Class of 2014

Luis Alba Sanchez, “La Virgen de mil Impressiones (The Virgin of a Thousand Impressions): Problematizing the Virgin of Guadalupe in a Pluralistic Society”

Anna Hawkins, “The Jewish Sole: Untying the Meaning of Bare Feet in Judaism”

Molly Johanson, “One Big Cemetery: Jewish History and Memory in the Comics of Ruter Modan”

Kaitlyn McCraw, “Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing: A Vision of a Reclaim(ed) Future”

Sean McNulty, “The Office of Student Missions at Walla Walla University: A Preliminary Ethnographic Sketch”

Benjamin Menzies, “‘The Authority of my Servants’: Authority in the Early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”

Benjamin Roberson, “Judaism as a Christian Idea: Images of Judaism in Early Modern England and the Sabbatian Revolution”

Class of 2013

Caroline Carr, “The Purity Movement: Pursuing Purity through Community and God”

Hadley Mowe, “Freedom within Boundaries: Negotiating Buddhism and Power in the Washington State Penitentiary”

Claire Matsunami, “The Jewish Defense League and Violent Religio-Nationalism”

Rachel Quednau, “Jesus Walks: Black Liberation through Hip-Hop”

Class of 2012 

John Abercrombie, “Syncretism in the Study of Quanzhen Taoism: From Essence to Argument”

Adriel Borshansky, “Women from the Diaspora and of the Wall: An Ethnography on Jewish Ritual Innovation” (Honors)

Molly Johnson, “Balancing Islam and Politics: the Muslim Brotherhood and its Contemporary Freedom and Justice Party”

Noah Lerner, “Radio Waves, Social Justice, and a Captive Audience: the Rise and Fall of the Radio Prophet”

Doyle McCarthy, “Pathways to Salvation: the Search for a Catholic Theology of Religious Pluralism in the Aftermath of Dominus Iesus

Michael Nelson, “‘My Fates Freeze me’: An Examination of the Influence of American Civil Religion and George W. Bush's Faith on the Development of the War on Terror”

Kate Potter (Double Major-Geology), “Two Servants of God: An Analysis of Religious Discourse in Non-Violent Movements During the Struggle for Indian Autonomy”

Evan Randall, “Steeped in Spirituality: An Exploration of Religious Appropriation, Societal Perception, and their Role in Tea Marketing in the U.S.”

Michael Rogers, “The Neglect of Spirituality in Medical Practice: An Analysis of How Medical Practitioners Can Improve Treatment of Christian Science and Jehovah's Witness Patients”

Class of 2011

Katie Bates, “What is a Child's Best Interest: The Conflict Between Parents' Religious Beliefs and the State”

Chris Fleming, “(Re)Reading the Writing on the Wall: An Analysis of Jain Literature and Imperial Epigraphy in Medieval India”

Emily Lorente, “The Man in Mr. Jones: Exorcising Understandings of Jim Jones and Peoples Temple”

Andrew Matschiner, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it in heaven: Locating Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr. in Twentieth Century Liberal Protestantism” (Honors)

Faith Tucker, “Untouchable Faith: The Christian Dalit Perspective of the Caste System in India”

Class of 2010

Michela Corcorran, “Reading Amina Wadud: Gender, Race and Liberative Theory in Islam” (Honors)

Hailey Flanigan, “Gai Jatra”

Colin Gibson, “Chasing Zen: Authenticity and Authentication in the Transmission of Japanese Buddhism to the West”

Brennan Jorgensen, “The Language of God: Abraham Abulafia and Ecstatic Kabbalah” (Honors)

Divneet Kaur, “A Social History of Sakhis: Re-imagining a Prophet Through Sikh Hagiography”

Autumn McCarten, “ Wahdat al-wujud vs. Wahatal-Shuhud: How Philosophy Effects Ritual and Societal Practices in the Chishti and Naqshbandi Orders”

Bridget Snow, “Biblical Imagery in Modernist Form: Religiosity in the Work of Marc Chagall” (Honors)

Benjamin Spencer, “‘Show Me How to See Things the Way You Do’: Existentialism in Faith, Philosophy, and Film”

Class of 2009

Michael Anderson, “The Divine Marriage of Goddess and God in Wiccan Art”

Rand Biersdorff, “The Hinge of Salvation: Philosophy, Flesh and Practice in Feminist and Womanist Theologies” (Honors)

Matthew William Duncan, “Magical Amulet Obsession in Thai Buddhist Society: not right, not wrong”

Nicholas Gottschall, “Orientalist Orientals and Accusatory Academics: Examining Religiosity and History in the Bodhgaya Conflicts” (Honors)

Cole Rathjen, “In Search of the Absolute: Kant and Anti-Climacus on the Possibility and Necessity of Grounding One’s Freedom in the Unconditioned” (Honors)

Class of 2008

Zoe Black, “The Kaifeng Jews: The History of an Isolated Religious Minority in China”

Eric Chalfant, “Seeds of Evolution: The Diversity of Contemporary Atheism” (Honors)

Beth Anne Davis, “The Deliverance Ritual: A Study of Spirit Possession in Ghana's Charismatic Christian Churches”

Joseph Farnes, “Christologia Instabilis: Christology and Instability in LGBT Theology” (Honors)

Meryl Farrar (Graduation pending)

Luke Hagel, “Soka Gakkai International-USA: Reverting to a More Utilitarian Approach”

Dana Johnson, “‘Hindu-Buddhists’ of the Himalayas: Reconceptualizing Syncretism in the History of Religions” (Honors)

Miranda Levy, “The Role of Seventh-Day Adventism at Walla Walla General Hospital”

Aaron Rose (May, 2009 graduate), “Nietzsche’s Critique of Christianity: Toward a Constructive Understanding of his Metaphysics and Morality”

Class of 2007

Ajay Abraham, “The Awaited Messiah: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the Shi’i Mahdi”

Jonathan Buchner (May, 2009 Graduate), “A Preliminary Examination of the 4D Fundamental Synoptic Solution”

Michael Cates, “Beyond Liberal or Constantinian Politics: Stanley Hauerwas’ Vision of the University” (Honors)

Elliot Knapp, “Leading the Way: the Relationship between Textualized Personal Religious Experience and the Formation of Cumulative Tradition in Three Taoist Classics” (Honors)

Jessica Marks, “Viewing Us through the Eyes of the Other: Religious Change, Ethnic Buddhists and Convert Buddhists Within American and Sikkimese Tibetan Traditions” (Honors)

Laura Nelson, “The Many Faces of Christ: An Investigation in Feminist Theological Methodology Through Examining Feminist and Womanist Christology” (Honors)

Emily Penoyar, “Mount Graham: Toward an Understanding of the Position of the Apaches”

Seanacey Pierce, “Jigozkuzoshi: Exploring the Buddhist Conception of Hell through the Art of Scroll Making”

Carly Rue, “Going Out To or Undergoing the Word of God: Comparing the Religious Thought of Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas by Way of their Philosophies of Relation”

Brian Shaheed, “Wahab and the Sufis”

Emily Smith, “Islam in Latin America: A History of Relocation, Assimilation and Revival” (Honors)

Joshua Smith, “Prophet of the Kingdom: A Fresh Appraisal of Gustavo Gutiérrez and the Theology of Liberation”

Class of 2006

Gareth Campbell, “A Devil Amidst Fallen Angels” (Honors)

John Compton, “Realms of Practice: Religious Pluralism in the Mystical Philosophy of Ibn al-‘Arabi”

Sandra Corpuz, “The Sacred Dimension of Alcoholics Anonymous”

Luke Erichsen, “From Gentiles to Friends: Mormons in a Changing World” (Honors)

Meghan Goss, “Buddhism in America: Americanization and Buddhist Fundamentalism”

Will Hyman, “True Love Waits”

Braden Lobingier (Double Major–Chemistry), “Canonizing the Buddha: Christian and Buddhist Interaction through Myth”

Katharine Magid (Double Major–Spanish), “Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Conservative Discourse: A Literary Analysis of the Ex-Gay and Traditional Christian Marriage Movements” (Honors)

Elisabeth (Lisa) Parrish, “Fundamental Assumptions: the Interaction of Western Essentialism with Tibetan and Sri Lankan Buddhism”

Mariah K. Weston, “Bootstraps or Greenbacks: The Media’s Inaccurate Portrayal of Televangelists”

Class of 2005

David Burge, “The Power of Christ Compels You: Exorcism, Mental Illness and Faith Healing in Comparative Catholic Traditions”

Lindsey Chadwick (double major with Math), “Veganism and/with/as a Religion”

Erica Greenberg, “The Marketing of Religion in America”

Josh Karp, “The Role of Music in the African American Baptist Church”

Caitlin McDermott, “Mormon Women: Why is their Highest Goal Only Motherhood?”

Pepa Paniagua (IPM–Religion & Gender Studies), “Gender in the Presbyterian Church: Practice or Just Preaching? An Examination Into the Construction of Gender in Presbyterian Hymnals”

Class of 2004

Matthew Maynard, “Teaching About Religion in the Public Schools”

Thomas Nagy, “St. Joseph as a Metaphor for the Valentinian Demiurge”

Nathan Roller, “Communit-e: An Examination of Beliefnet.com” (Honors)

Class of 2003

Emily Courtney, “Unifying Spiritual Leadership: Filling the Void”

Kevin Erickson (January, 2006 completion), “I am Relevant: Hipster Evangelicals and the Culture Industry”

Kate Imwalle, “Feminism and Catholicism: Can a Positive Relationship Exist?”

David Prins, “A Monk's Life: An Ethnographic Study of Theravadan Buddhist Monks and their Social Relevance in Sri Lanka”

Class of 2002

Brook Elliott-Buettner (IPM in Religious Studies), “The Problem of Critical Historical Analysis of the New Testament”

Meredith Gudger (IPM in Religious Studies), “Will They Be as One?  How Christians Answer the Question of Homosexuality”

Megan Lillis (IPM in Religion), “Spiritual Sisters on a Mystical Path: Rabi’a Al-Adwiyya and Teresa of Avila” (Honors)

Religion Major Instituted with the Class of 2003

Class of 2001

David Jagernauth (IPM in Religion), “Abode of an Adulterous God: Myth, History and Mystery in the Buddhist Cult of God Skanda-Murugan and his Mistress Valli Amma at Kataragamma, Sri Lanka”

Jill Jarvis (IPM in Religion), “Fighting for Freedom, and for the Love of God: Poetic Self-Representation and Acts of Female Resistance in the Therigatha and the Songs of Two Bhakti Saints” (Honors)

Class of 1998

Erin Carlson (IPM in Religion), “Taking the Vaunted Middle Path: An Attempt at Balance in the Study of Women’s Religiosity”

Class of 1997

Keri Bean (IPM in Religion), “Gender in Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism”

Gavin Rickleffs (IPM in Religion and World Literature), “Alienation and Awakening: Exploring Gnostic Elements of Albert Camus' The Stranger

Class of 1995

Daniel Enriquez (IPM in Religion and Philosophy), “Grace and Knowledge in the Summa Theologica


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