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 Resources for Graduate Students

Information for Master's Essays
Professional Development

Please see the School of Graduate Studies website for information and policies pertaining to all graduate students at Queen's.


Archive of MA Research Essays

2018

Laura Rosada Bevilacqua

The Notion of utilitas in Roman Religion

In this research, I analyze the notion of utilitas in Roman culture. The primary question is about whether it is possible to attribute a religious nuance to the term utilitas. I suggest that that the concept of utilitas seems to establish determined social and religious expectations. Although this paper only represents the starting point to develop further research, I conclude that utilitas does not indicate an emotional state or a belief, but a category of the Roman public thought, which helps in knowing what would the right thing to do to the benefit of the state. The term utilitas does not only convey the idea of advantage but also indicates appropriateness.


Hasan Doagoo

Post-Reformation Protestant perception of Islam and Muslim sects: A study of Oratio Persica De Differentia Religions Turcicae & Persicae in context.

The ways in which the West understood Islam and Muslims play an important role in terms of analyzing the history of encounters between the East and the West generally, as well as Muslims and Christians specifically. While a large body of scholarship has been produced on the perception of Islam and Muslims in the Modern and Pre-Reformation periods, there are relatively fewer works written on the same topic about the Reformation and Post-Reformation eras.
Therefore, this work aims to make its contribution considering its limited scope by analyzing the ways in which Post-Reformation Protestant theologians understood Islam and Muslim sects. In doing so, Oratio Persica De Differentia Religionis Turcicae & Persicae, an unstudied Latin/Persian work by the German Protestant theologian Sebastian Kirchmaier (1641 1700), would be the focus of study. While Oratio Persica explains the roots of the Sunni (represented by Turks) and Shi’a (represented by Perians) divided from Kirchmaier’s perspective, it also colorfully manifests his perception of Islam, Muslims, and their beliefs and practices. In addition to Oratio Persica, several other Post-Reformation primary sources are examined as well in order to provide the reader with a clearer and more inclusive picture of the perception of Islam in the Post-Reformation period. Adding an early Reformation work to this project also paved the way for investigating the ways in which the Post-Reformation image of Islam differs from its early Reformation origins.
All in all, this study argues that, although with some differences, the Pre-Reformation Christian bias in terms of understanding Islam continued to form West’s perception of Islam during both the Reformation and Post-Reformation periods. It also demonstrates that the treatment of Islam or Muslims in Post-Reformation scholarship was through a Christian lens and primarily, in many cases, for the internal usage of the Western Protestant community. For instance, bolding Sunni-Shi’s divide to downplay the internal conflict among Christian denominations, or refuting Catholicism by likening it to Islam as a confirmed heresy.


Kacey Dool

Painting You, Painting Me: Viewing the ‘Other’ through gendered-violence against Indigenous women and girls in Kent Monkman’s “Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience”

This paper presents a critical analysis of the ‘Other’ as a mechanism of hegemonic Eurocentric colonialism. ‘Othering’ as a methodological lens allows for consideration of the complexities of identity politics, in an interdisciplinary manner. Through this interdisciplinary approach, a re-telling and re-consideration of the position of Indigenous Peoples in Canada is possible, engaging in a process of decolonization through ‘resurgent recognition’. The disproportionate gendered-violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls in the Canadian context acts as an example of the extent to which the prescription of the ‘Otherness’ distorts power relations: not only does the ‘colonial imagination’ situate the West and European settlement as ‘civilized’, and the Indigenous as ‘savage’, but it also inscribes a heteropatriarichal hierarchy. Through the representational art of Kent Monkman, ‘resurgent recognition’ provides public audiences, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, with the opportunity to reflect and reconsider the past 150 years of colonialism in Canada.


Emma Funnell-Kononuk

Secular Spirituality: The Relationship Between Emerging Adults’ Positive Development and Connection, Community, and Contribution

Emerging adults, generally taken to be 18-29 year olds, are no longer adolescents but not entirely adults (Arnett 2015). This age group spends more of their leisure time alone in comparison to any other age group under 40 (Arnett 2000, 474) and as a result are at greater risk than other groups for loneliness and the problems that come alongside it. Millennial emerging adults are also the cohort most likely to identify as religious “nones” or “spiritual but not religious” (Thiessen and Wilkins-Laflamme 2017; Beaman and Beyer 2013, 129). This paper explores these two phenomena in the Western world – emerging adults’ increasing loneliness and decreasing religiosity – and establishes a connection between the two. It then synthesizes theories of spirituality and youth development from the fields of education as well as health sciences, reconciling these with theories of spirituality from the field of religious studies to further develop the term “secular spirituality.” It concludes by reflecting on how feelings of connection and community associated with secular spiritual experiences might buffer against loneliness, and calling for empirical studies to test this hypothesized health-protective effect.


Emma Lockhart

Right Click or Ritual?: The Role and Function of Snapchat in the Lives of Canadian Adolescents.

Summary of Area of Investigation

My MRE will be an investigation of primary data gathered last spring by a research team led by Dr. Valerie Michaelson and Dr. Valerie Steeves. I am planning to use a specific segment of this data relating to Snapchat and Snapchat streaks. I will investigate how young people are using Snapchat and what kind of role it plays in their lives. Is there a religious or spiritual component to social media as a whole? Are communication apps like Snapchat filling a role that religion sometimes plays in a young person’s life, such as addressing our need for connection and meaning? Is the act of keeping Snapchat streaks a way of making meaning? My research will seek to understand if, and if so, how, Snapchat use can function as a ritual in the lives of adolescents.
I will also seek the guidance of Dr. Sharday Mosurinjohn and examine Snapchat as a potential New Religious Movement. Dr. Mosurinjohn has done work on the organization ME to WE as a “new secular spiritual movement” (Mosurinjohn & Funnell-Kononuk, 2017). I will explore whether or not Snapchat maps onto the framework of a new way of expressing religion.


 Kevin O’Rourke McColl

THE DESTINATION OF ROMANS 16: A NETWORK PERSPECTIVE

The intended location of Romans 16 has long been contentious due to varying extant manuscripts that do not contain this chapter, and because in spite of never having visited Rome, Paul is very familiar with Christ-followers assumed to be located there. Rome and Ephesus are the main locations that have been suggested, with proponents of Ephesus arguing that this chapter was part of another letter. This paper examines the problem of the intended location of Romans using a social network theory approach. Using the names found in Romans 16, several network models are created to represent Paul’s potential connections to the individuals mentioned in this chapter. These network models, along with textual and historical evidence, indicate that Romans 16 was more likely intended for Christ-followers in Ephesus, and suggests this chapter was a later insertion to the text of Romans.
Keywords: Paul, Romans 16, Ephesus, social network theory, networks


Casey Stiemer

The (Dis)Enchantment of Death

Historically, religious traditions have played a major role in shaping the way we conceptualize the meaning of death. Against the backdrop of loss and meaninglessness that death often entails, religion acts as a beacon of hope that is often characterized in the West as a belief in the afterlife or some mysterious form of spiritual redemption. But what becomes of these religious conceptualizations of death in the age of secularization? Is it still possible to maintain an authentic desire to transcend death, to find spiritual meaning in material loss, when faced with the modern pressures of secularity and disenchantment? By drawing on Charles Taylor’s understanding of secularity, in conjunction with the findings of existential philosophy and psychoanalytic theory, I suggest that traditionally defined secular mechanisms, such as science and medicine, can be interpreted as “religious agents,” that act to mitigate the fear of death. Most significantly, I argue that the modern preference to rely on these secular mechanisms highlights the fact that as much as we “moderns” like to perceive ourselves as removed from our religious past, our responses to death remain rooted in a religious rhetoric that has been strategically repackaged in secular terms.


Lauren Strumos

Indigenous Sacred Sites and Religious Freedom in Canadian Law:  An Analysis of the Ktunaxa Nation Case

This paper analyzes the majority decision of the Supreme Court of Canada case, Ktunaxa Nation v. British Columbia, in which the Ktunaxa, an Indigenous nation, sought protection of their sacred site from permanent development using s. 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Ktunaxa claimed that the construction of a proposed ski resort on their sacred site, a valley named Qat’muk, would infringe upon their freedom of religion. Specifically, it would sever a connection between Qat’muk and the Grizzly Bear Spirit, whose presence at Qat’muk is essential for Ktunaxa beliefs and practices. The majority opinion in the Supreme Court case concluded that the ski resort would not prevent the Ktunaxa from believing in the Grizzly Bear Spirit nor manifesting this belief. As a result, its development would not infringe upon the Ktunaxa’s religious freedom.
I argue that this decision developed from a narrow interpretation of religious freedom on behalf of the majority opinion, which valued a conception of religious freedom that is grounded in individual belief over Indigenous attachments to land. A precedent was consequently set that makes it unlikely Indigenous peoples will obtain protection of their sacred sites using s. 2(a) of the Charter in the future. To construct this two-fold argument, I first examine sacred sites in Indigenous spirituality, followed by a presentation of belief-based understandings of religious freedom in Canadian law. I then analyze the decision-making of the Justices in regard to the Ktunaxa’s religious freedom claim. To conclude, I explain the significance of the case for Canada in the context of reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and the state, as well as the Court’s upholding of freedom and democracy as enshrined in the Charter.