Holstein Dissertation Fellows 2018-2019

Chris Babits
Chris Babits is a Ph.D. candidate in History and an Andrew W. Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation is titled “To Cure a Sinful Nation: ‘Conversion Therapy’ and the Making of Modern America, 1920-Today.” In it, he explores the cultural and political battleground of “conversion therapy,” a broad range of therapeutic and counseling practices that aim, in some way, to “cure,” “change,” “redeem,” “restore,” or “repair” a person’s attractions to the same sex and/or their gender identity. Chris’ research has been funded by Harvard University; Yale University; the ONE Archives; the Massachusetts Historical Society; and other archives and cultural institutions.


Mentor: Emily Thuma, University of California, Irvine

Benae Beamon
Benae Beamon is a Ph.D. candidate at Boston University in the Religion and Society track in their Graduate Division of Religious Studies She earned her B.A. in religion from Colgate University and her M.A.R. from Yale Divinity School, concentrating in ethics. Her focus is black queer ethics, folding Black Church ethnography and philosophical hermeneutics into sexual ethics discourse. Her dissertation “Black Trans Women and Black (Christian) Religious Ethics” uses social history to uncover black moral and social thought surrounding sexuality and builds primarily on womanist ethics, queer theory, and black theology to explore the experience and reality of black queer and trans women. She also has interests in the black arts, black music, performance art/performativity, and specifically tap dance, as they relate to queerness.


Mentor: Tamara Ho, University of California, Riverside

Liz Dolfi
Liz Dolfi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University in the North American Religions subfield. Her primary research interests include feminist and queer studies of American religious history, American evangelicalism, contemporary secularisms, and evangelical heterosexuality. Her current project is a historical and ethnographic study of the motivations, tactics, ideology, and theology of the Christian anti-human trafficking movement. She holds an M.A., M.Phil, and IRWGS Graduate Certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies from Columbia University, a M.A.R. from Yale Divinity School, and a B.A. from Vassar College.


Mentor: Andrea Smith, University of California, Riverside

Gregg Drinkwater
Gregg Drinkwater is a doctoral candidate in U.S. history and Jewish studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His research focuses on sexuality, gender, and Judaism in the modern United States, specifically the role of gay and lesbian synagogues in transforming the American Jewish community in the 1970s and 1980s. Prior to his enrollment at the University of Colorado, Drinkwater worked for 10 years for two national Jewish organizations, first Jewish Mosaic and then
Keshet, doing research, writing, training, and consulting in support of LGBTQ inclusion and social justice in the Jewish community in the United States and globally. He is the co-editor of the book “Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible” (NYU Press, 2009). He received his BS and MA degrees at the University of California, Berkeley.Mentor: Jennifer A. Thompson, California State University, Northridge
Seth Palmer
Seth Palmer is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology and in the collaborative programs in Women’s and Gender Studies and Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto and is currently a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute in African-American and African Studies. His dissertation, provisionally titled: In the Image of a Woman: Spirited Identifications and Embodied Interpellations along the Betsiboka River, reconsiders the import of spirit mediumship and its idioms in the social worldings of sarimbavy (same-sex desiring and/or gender non-conforming, male-bodied persons) and the spirits that possess them. Seth’s research, which is based on ethnographic fieldwork in northwestern Madagascar, has been published in TSQ.


Mentor: David K. Seitz, Harvey Mudd College

Max Thornton
An alumnus of University College London and Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union, Max Thornton is a doctoral candidate in Theological and Philosophical Studies in Religion at Drew University in New Jersey. His work spans affect theory, posthumanism, and trans and crip studies, with a focus on gender, disability, and theological anthropology. He has taught religion at Kean University, the first-year seminar at Seton Hall, and Latin at a London primary school. His other interests include the internet and new media theory, surveillance studies, and cats.


Mentor: Erin M. Runions, Pomona College