Marie Olson Purcell

Marie Purcell

Graduate Student in Religion and Culture




Marie Olson Purcell is a PhD candidate in the Graduate Program in Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University with a focus in Religion and Culture and a Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies. As a scholar of American religion, particularly Christianity, gender and dialogical engagement across disparate worldviews, her primary methodology is anthropological with a theological reflexivity informed by feminisms and relational dynamics. Her dissertation is an ethnography of evangelical women at First Baptist Dallas, looking at intersections between religious identity, gender identity and political identity formation.

Prior to entering the program, Marie graduated with a BA from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where she double majored in Religion and English with a concentration in Women’s Studies. She earned a Leadership scholarship to attend Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN, where she graduated with a Master of Divinity degree. After being ordained as a Lutheran pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) in 2011, this Minnesota-grown woman was transplanted to Texas where she served as an associate pastor in San Antonio, TX for four and a half delightful years before moving up to Dallas to pursue her persistent passion in religious studies at the PhD level.

Marie and her husband, David, live in Grand Prairie, TX with their twin daughters.

Dissertation Advisor: Dr. Jill DeTemple

Dissertation Title: "Faithful: Religious, Gender and Political Identities of First Baptist Dallas Women"

Fellowships, Supported Research, and Other Grants: 2020-2021 Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship; 2019-2020 Schubert M. Ogden Dissertation Fellowship for Academic Excellence; 2018-2021 ELCA Educational Grant Program: Graduate Study Grant

Conference Presentations: 

"A Battle Between Good and Evil: Ethnographic Reflections on the Election from First Baptist Dallas," American Academy of Religion (AAR) and Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), December 2, 2020.

"But you love Jesus, right?": Ethnographic Accountability Across Polarized Worldviews," American Academy of Religion (AAR), December 3, 2020.

"*Bodies that Matter* to God: Religious Performativity as Theoretical Bridge between Feminists and Complementarians," American Academy of Religion, November 19. 2018.

"Unsettling Performance: Gender Performativity Practices in the Biblical Womanhood Movement," Southwest Commission on Religious Studies, March 11, 2018.

"Mind the Gap: Ramifications of Liberalism on Lay Sexual Theology," Southwest Commission on Religious Studies, March 11, 2017.