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Southern Oregon University


Eric Worthey

My name is Eric Worthey. I am a non-traditional college student, earning a baccalaureate of arts degree in English with an emphasis in Literary Studies. I anticipate on graduating with cum laude in December 2015.

I am interested in the intersection of written history where religion and gender meet. I am fascinated with the way religion shapes thought and belief patterns, as well as the way that people utilize literature to communicate the wide variety of religious thought inspired by individual perceptions and experiences. I am also interested in qualitative research on the effects of the canonical passages in western religion that have been used to usurp the power of certain groups of people like females, homosexuals, transgender individuals, and ethnic groups. Due to my own gender non-conformity, I have personally witnessed the miracles and atrocities of religion—experiences that inspire my pursuit of knowledge about gender and religion. As an undergraduate at Southern Oregon University (SOU), I performed extensive research on the emergence of Christian literature from oral tradition to written, and the process that was implemented in deciding which texts were deemed either canonical or heretical. This research created a desire in me to probe deeper into the history of Christianity through the vehicle of Philosophy, which led me to the discovery of Thomas Aquinas—a scholar, writer, philosopher, and theologian during the Medieval Ages Aquinas' work fascinates me because much of what he articulated still holds true today, providing contemporary scholars philosophers reference points for arguments in support of God’s existence. Following this, I gained the opportunity to trace the emergence of the character of the devil from a few mentions in Hebrew scripture to an explosion of embellishments to the church liturgy during the Medieval Ages.

Most recently, I embarked on a research path that allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the hero's quest and the wounded fisher king motifs found in modern and historical literature. Building on the work of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, I performed a literary analysis of the hero archetype that appears in two modern post- war literary texts, Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and Bobbie Ann Mason's In Country. I explored how through the use of myth, the authors challenge traditional representations of binary gender. Both authors emphasize the importance of characters' ability to embrace both the male and female aspects of their nature rather than searching externally for their binary. The analysis indicates that the inclination to internally fuse the gender binary provides a pathway for overcoming duality.

Upon completing my baccalaureate degree at SOU, I plan to continue my education at the graduate level, ultimately, in pursuit of a doctoral degree. I am excited to explore the ways that literature is used to convey religious ideas and beliefs. I will seek to positively contribute to the academy through the publication of extensive research on religion and gender. I recognize the importance of education and am committed to life-long learning. I look forward to inspiring the future generation of thinkers by teaching at the university level.

Areas of academic interest: religious narrative and culture, social transformation, and the history of the English language.

McNair Faculty Mentor: Dr. Alma-Rosa Alvarez, Professor of English and Writing



  • SOU McNair Scholars Journal 2015

Article: The Universal Heroes' Quest: Fusing the Binary