From gender, the body, and violence in early Christian literature to religion and film, Jenny Collins-Elliott has diverse interests.
Jennifer Collins-Elliott joined the Religious Studies Department as a part-time lecturer in fall of 2014. She specializes in early Christianity, with a focus on gender, the body, and violence in early Christian literature. She received her BA in Religious Studies from the University of Kansas and her MA in Religion from Florida State University, where she is also pursuing her doctoral work.
Jenny is currently working on her dissertation entitled “‘Bespattered with the Mud of Another’s Lust’: Rape and Physical Embodiment in Christian Literature of the 4th-6th Centuries CE.” This project explores the ways that sexual violence is described and deployed in a variety of early Christian texts. Focusing on the writings of select Church leaders and stories of martyrs, this dissertation demonstrates that responses to rape reveal how these authors imaged the relationship between the body and chastity and how this concept changes over time, moving toward a more dominantly body-centric model of sexual purity. Jenny’s research has been furthered by her recent participation in a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute on “Diverse Philosophical Approaches to Sexual Violence” at Elon University. She has also presented her work nationally at the annual Society of Biblical Literatures conference and the North American Patristics conference, as well as internationally at the International Patristics conference at Oxford.
In her time at the University of Tennessee, Jenny has taught a variety of courses, including an honors section of World Religions in History; Introduction to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and Gender and Religion. Starting in 2016, Jenny has developed a Comparison of World Religions class that focuses on world religions and film. This class encourages students to think critically about the ways in which film displays and creates religion and religious discourses in both American and international contexts. This course has also provided an opportunity for Jenny to further her interest in representations of religion in media as well as her interest in critical approaches to the academic study of religion. Coming from the Midwest, Jenny is enjoying Knoxville’s mountainous landscape and learning about Appalachia’s history, food, and language.