Sperry Fellows Program

Thanks to the generosity of the Sarah T. Sperry GP '16, '20 Academic Enrichment Fund, the Department of Religion launched the Sperry Fellows Program in 2019-20. Through this unique and innovative program, we aim to provide every Religion major who is writing an Honors Thesis with a "Sperry Fellow"—a scholar outside of Dartmouth who has particular expertise in the topic addressed by the thesis. During the thesis-writing process, the student is supervised by a faculty member within the department, but also maintains regular contact with his or her Sperry Fellow to ask questions, locate relevant sources, work through challenges, and receive feedback on drafts of the thesis as it develops. In May of each academic year, the Sperry Fellow is invited to travel to Dartmouth, if possible, to participate in the student's honors thesis defense and/or to attend the Department's annual public presentation of honors theses. Thanks to the Sperry Fellows Program, our honors thesis writers gain a valuable opportunity to be closely mentored by a recognized expert outside of the regular department faculty.


Samantha Palermo '24
Thesis: "Am I My Brother's Keeper?: Lessons Learned from Rabbi Marshall Meyer and Jewish Liberation Theology" (advisor: Susannah Heschel)

Sperry Fellow: Santiago Slabodsky, The Robert and Florence Kaufman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor of Religion, Hofstra University

William S. Bryant '24
Thesis: "'Responsible Only to God': The Life of Nathan Lord, Dartmouth's Pro-Slavery President" (advisor: Randall Balmer)

Sperry Fellow: Mark Valeri, Reverend Priscilla Wood Neaves Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics, Washington University




Seth A. Weprin '23
Thesis: "By bumper stickers and T-shirts: A re-examination of American spiritual expression in the New Age" (advisor: Shaul Magid)

Sperry Fellow: Hugh B. Urban, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor, The Ohio State University

Drew N. Whitley '23
Thesis: "Last Word Speeches in the Hebrew Bible and Early Jewish Literature" (advisor: Susan Ackerman)

Sperry Fellow: Timothy H. Lim, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism, University of Edinburgh

Caris C. White '23
Thesis: "Constructing and Contesting Legacies: Religion and the Gendered History of Abstract Art" (advisor: Devin Singh)

Sperry Fellow: Professor David Morgan, Department of Religious Studies, Duke University



Rachel Gambee '22
Thesis: "Humanae Vitae, Revisited: Contraception, Ecclesiastical Authority, and the Church's Reckoning with the Modern World" (advisor: Professor Timothy Baker)

Sperry Fellow: Professor James O'Toole, Clough Millenium Chair in History, Boston College

Max Pumilia '22
Thesis: "Navigating Errancy: Ismaili Perspectives on Dhimmis from the Fatimid Revolution to the Fall of Alamut" (advisor: Professor Christopher MacEvitt)

Sperry Fellow: Dr. Farhad Daftary, Head of the Department of Academic Research and Publications, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London

Evan Schafer '22
Thesis: "Woe to you, Jerusalem: The Transmission and Reinterpretation of the Fil Agap Prophecy (advisor: Professor Christopher MacEvitt)

Sperry Fellow: Emeritus Professor Peter Edbury, Cardiff School of History and Archaeology, Cardiff University




Tina Li '20
Thesis: "Religion and Spirituality in 21st Century America: a Social Economic Analysis of Shifting Affiliations" (advisor: Professor Jeremy Sabella)

Sperry Fellow: Philip Gorski, Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies, Yale University