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Student Research

All senior religion majors do a senior project, which involves a term of independent research, and some students continue their projects into the following term as a senior thesis. Students pursue a striking variety of topics, using a range of approaches, as the titles of recent senior projects and theses demonstrate.


Laura Friedrich, "Written to be Remembered and Authored to Inspire: Collective memory and a new female model from the late ancient narratives of Perpetua and Thecla" (Senior Thesis)

Sara Santiago, "Faith in Prisons: The Transformative History and Potential of Religious Leaders in the American Prison System" (Senior Project)

Ashley Tonini, "Mount Eskel is Singing: Development of Divine Connection in Mormon Fantasy Novels" (Senior Thesis)

Lucy Weiss, "Examining Religion at Middlebury: Missionaries, Discourse, and Courses Over the Years" (Senior Thesis)


Lauren Bates, This Land is Our Land: Medieval Jewish Travelers’Assertion of Sovereignty over Sacred Spaces of Palestine (Senior Project)

Susan Deutsch, Goddess in the Graveyard, Witch in the Woods: Narrative Depictions of the Goddess Durga in Indonesia as Templates” (Senior Project)

Leila Faulstich-Hon, Building a Pure Land on Earth: Fagushan’s (法鼓山) Philosophy of Engagement (Senior Project)

Sebastian Grandas, "Spiritual memory and imagination: A reading of García
Márquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Toni Morrison's Beloved, in light of Don Quixote." 
(Senior Project)

Xuan He, Reimagining the Rural: Visions of Healing and Transformation in China’s Countryside (Senior Project)

kOle Lekhutle, A BODHISATTVA IS BORN The domestication of Guan Yin in Lesotho (Senior Project)

Olivia Mitchell, “Catholic Social Teaching and the “Preferential Option for the Poor” in the United States’ Health Care System: Integrating Top-Down and Bottom-Up Religious Ethics in Institutional Policy” (Senior Thesis)

Caleb Turner, Investigating Criticisms of Modern Hajj in the Age of Social Media (Senior Project)

Varsha Vijayakumar, The Looming Threat of Hindu Nationalism: Diasporic Considerations and Implications for Hindu Indian-American Political Participation (Senior Project)


Chris Diak, Transcendental Generative Grammar: A Chomskyan Reading of the Sphoṭavāda (Senior Thesis)

Ben Freedman, Turn of Heart, Turn of Phrase: Qur’anic Translations in Japanese (Senior Thesis)

Connor Freeman, Semper Reformanda: Peter Berger's Sociology of Religion and its Application to the Evangelical Lutheran Church America (Senior Thesis)

Naina Horning, Zhu Xi, al-Ghazali and Moral Education: A Comparative Study Through the Lens of Confucianism and Islam (Senior Project)

Hal Juster, The Music is More Ancient Than the Words: The Evolution of a Musical Black Liberation Theology and its Influence on Martin Luther King, Jr. (Senior Thesis)

Anna Lueck, “For the Sake of Our Children” Motherhood as Self-Conscious Performance Among Middle-Class Muslim Immigrants in Vermont (Senior Project)

Miles Meijer, Bibles and Ballots: The Christian Progressive Movement's Fusion of Religion with Immigration Politics in Trump's America (Senior Thesis)

Mehek Naqvi, "MEMES AND MUSLIMS: Examining the Conflation of Religion and Culture Among Second-Generation, Muslim-American Youth." (Senior Project)

Jonathon O’Dell, A Case Study of Christian Missions Among the Lisu People of Nujiang, China (Senior Project)

Lex Scott, Identity Incongruity & Reconciliation: Queer & Muslim (Senior Project) 

Liza Tarr, Democracy Under Siege: The Combative Nature of American Political Discourse, and its Metaphoric Revival (Senior Thesis)

Weiru Ye, Uncovering House Churches in China’s Christian Heartland (Senior Thesis)

Shan Zeng, Shimenawa: Weaving Traditions with Modernity – Interdisciplinary Research on the Cultural History of Japanese Sacred Rope (Senior Thesis)


David M. Dennis, Pancasila vs. Syariah: The Dialectical Evolution of Official State Nationalism and Islamic Authority that Shaped and Reshaped the Foundations of the Indonesian State (1945-2005) (Thesis) 

Hayk Harutyunyan, Heidegger: The Death of God and the Metaphysics of Subjectivity (Senior Project)

Benjamin S. Karlin, The Primacy of Experience and the Meaning of God: Mordecai Kaplan and the legacy He Created (Senior Project)

Emma R. Walker, The Shifting Amazigh Identity from French Colonization to the Present through the Portrayal of al-Kahina (Senior Project)


Francesca M. Conde, Women of the Islamic State: Social Media and Sisterhood (Thesis)

Kelsey N. Follansbee, From war photograph to a museum for forgetting: A built reproduction of Rosenthal’s Iwo Jima photograph (Thesis)

Alexandra K. Gimbel, Akbar’s Sacred Kingship: Religious Influences and Their Visual Manifestations in Akbarnama (Thesis)

Johan W. Heiser, Re-Thinking Mysticism: An Examination of the Transformative Path Through Language of Light and Darkness (Thesis)

Karma Lama, The Paradox of Purity and Pollution: Examining Ecology and Religion along the Ganges River (Thesis)

Maya J. Peers Nitzberg, Illustrating and Unpacking the Type-Scene Of Land-Woman: Examining Misogynist and Imperializing Ideologies in the Hebrew Bible (Thesis)                                    

Andrew P. Smith, “In suffering, a dazzling light”: Jewish Historiography in the Debate over Zionism, 1837-1919 (Thesis)

Matthew B. Sptizer, Conceptualizing the Non-Conceptual: Language at its Limit in Buddhist Thought (Thesis)

Kai S. Wiggins, VIOLENCE, DIGITAL MEDIA, JUST WAR. Complications to Just War Doctrine in the 21st Century (Thesis)


Alexandra J. Cateriano, Working Towards a Happy Medium: Therapy and Religion in Mystical Mediumship (Thesis)

Mariam Khan, Reading Muslim Women in the Qur'an and Islamic Tradition (Senior Project)

Emma L. McDonald, The “ART” of Conversation: An Ethical Analysis of Assisted Reproductive            Technologies in Catholic Moral Theology and the Formulation of a Dialogical, Cross-Cultural Sexual Ethic (Thesis)

Katherine M. Mulloy, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Transgression and Transformation in Contemporary Chicana Visual Imagery (Senior Project)

Eleanor J. Oakley, The Chakra System of the Sri Vidya School of Tantric Hinduism (Senior Project)

Olivia N. Raggio, Cardenal and the Experiment of Lived Liberation Theology (Senior Project)


Sarah Rose Cohen, Religion, Violence and the Apocalypse: The Case of the Islamic State (Thesis)

Blake Alexander Harper, Justification and the Disappearing Gap: Two Essays on the Philosophy of Perception & the Philosophy of Religion (Thesis, joint with Philosophy)

David Keun Woong Park, Preaching in the Midst of Violence and Conflict Case Studies of Past and Present (Thesis)

Jack Schwarz Peisch, The Anxious Search for Self-Realization: Synthesizing Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death and Indian Buddhist Thought (Thesis)


Emily Lisa Coale, Dr. Azizah al-Hibri: Activist and Scholar for Muslim Women’s Rights (Senior Project)

Madeleine Therese Dai, Blasphemy! (And Beyond): An Exploration of Religiously Offensive Art and its Contribution to Public Discourse, Artistic Diversity, and Theological Inquiry (Thesis)

Charlotte Sabina Holloway,Transforming Darkness: The Body and Healing in Buddhist Philosophy and Practice (Senior Project)

Kelsey Shayna Lee, Welcoming and Affirming: How Greater Media Exposure Has Shifted the Young Evangelical View on Homosexuality (Senior Project)

Adina Rebecca Marx-Arpadi, “The Most Awesome of Human Experience”: An Exploration of Mothers’ Meaning-makings Throughout the Childbirth Process (Thesis)

Peter Angelo Murray, Equal Dignity Under the Law An Ethical Analysis of Catholic Political Participation & “Ad Hoc Theology” in the Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Debate (Thesis)

Preston Aaron Peralta, Interpretations of Luther: Martin Luther's Role in Nazi Germany (Thesis)

Matthew David Weinert-Stein, A Tradition of Its Own: The ‘Hellenistic-Jewish’ Dichotomy and Conflicting Identities in Alexandrian Jewish Allegory (Senior Project)


Yetunde Kya Adetoro, Black Religion in 20th Century Cinema: A Deconversion from the Prodigal Son to the Creole "Voodoo" Practitioner (Senior Project)

Victoria Marie Anderson, American Buddhism: A Case Study in the Formation of Religious Identity and Community (Thesis)

Maria Roberta Benjamin, Toward an American Islam: What the Debate over   the Compatibility of the Shari'ah and the U.S. Constitution Reveals about American Religion (Thesis)

Austin James Bergeron, Environmental Thought in Buddhist Modernity: Implications, Connections, and Deviations (Senior Project)

Sandro Dakalovic, Building the 'Heavenly Kingdom': The Construction of Serbian National Identity (Thesis, joint with History)

Luke Alexander Patton Dauner, Hindu and Buddhist Interactions in Nepal: A Changing Buddhist Identity (Senior Project)

Hannah Lauren Elkin, “O Mortal, Proclaim Jerusalem’s Abominations to Her”: Understanding the Language of Ezekiel 15 in Antiquity and Today (Thesis)

Danielle Kathryn Fahoome, Catholic Perspectives on Poverty (Senior Project)

Diane Patricia Martin, Maintaining "Dual Citizenship" to Church & State: Revisionist Moral Theologians Providing a Catholic Argument for Contraception in Federally Funded Catholic Hospitals  (Thesis)

Adrienne Christine Matunas, God, Evolution, and Morality's Foundation (Thesis, joint with Philosophy)

William Per Gustaf Peterson, Religious Curriculum at Middlebury: 1915-1966 (Thesis)

Department of Religion

Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753