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Religious Studies Department

Jill Peterfeso

Eli Franklin Craven and Minnie Phipps Craven Associate Prof of Religious Studies


Dana Auditorium 209


Jill Peterfeso has taught at Guilford since August 2012. She is a cultural historian and ethnographer whose published scholarship focuses on examples of gender, authority, and creative resistance.

Her first book, Womanpriest: Tradition and Transgression in the Contemporary Roman Catholic Church (Fordham University Press, 2020), analyzes the controversial Roman Catholic Womenpriest (RCWP) movement. Although the Roman Catholic Church refuses to ordain women, RCWP seeks to heal a wounded church by using Roman Catholic sacraments, rituals, and ministerial practices to ordain women as “valid but illegal” Roman Catholic priests. 

She has also published on Mormonism and has two articles in Mormon Studies Review, both focused on teaching Mormonism in the undergraduate classroom. She has given invited talks on Womanpriest for Future Church, the Houston Seminar, and the annual Catholicism lecture at University of Illinois Chicago, and she has spoken about her work as a professor on a number of podcasts, including Classical Ideas, ReligionWise, and Tea for Teaching

Her scholarship informs her teaching, and likewise, her teaching has given rise to her current research project. Thanks to the opportunities she has had at Guilford to design three different courses on Disney (as an introduction to college-level critical thinking; as an example of American narratives and religious storytelling; as a location for a “Fantastic Journey” of self-discovery), she is currently working on an ethnographic project examining Disney as a form of American religion. 

Finally, she is focused on re-energizing the humanities as essential to the liberal arts, and she has pursued this work thanks to fellowship support from Guilford’s Center for Principled Problem-Solving and Excellence in Teaching.


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ph.D., 2012
Religious Studies
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, M.A., 2008
Religious Studies
Harvard Divinity School, M.A., 2004
Theological Studies
Rhodes College, B.A., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa (inducted as a junior), 2000
English Literature and English Creative Writing
Religious Studies and Theatre

Selected Scholarship

Peer Reviewed Books, Articles, and Chapters:

  • Womanpriest: Transgression and Tradition in the Contemporary Roman Catholic Church, Fordham University Press, 2020.
  • “Designs on Domesticity and Constructions amid Conflict: Representations of Christian Women,” in Women in Christianity in the Age of Empire, 1800-1920, ed. Janet Wooten, A Cultural History of Women in Christianity, series eds. Lisa Isherwood, Rosemary Radford Ruether, and Megan Clay (London: Routledge, 2022). 
  • “Vatican II and the History of Interpretation: The Case of Roman Catholic Womenpriests,” in The Long Shadow of Vatican II: Authority, Faith, and Church Since the Second Vatican Council, ed. Lucas Von Rompay, Sam Miglarese, and David Morgan (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015). 
  • “From Testimony to Seximony, from Script to Scripture: Revealing Mormon Women’s Sexuality through the Mormon Vagina Monologues,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 27.2 (Fall 2011): 31-49. 

Invited Articles:

  • “Pedagogical Review of Terryl Given’s Mormonism: What Everyone Needs to Know,” Mormon Studies Review (2022): 84-88. 
  • “Response to Ricker Design and Analysis: The Mock Conference as a Teaching Tool: Role Play and ‘Conplay’ in the Classroom,” Teaching Theology and Religion 21.1 (January 2018) 
  • “Making Familiar the Unfamiliar: Teaching Mormonism,” Mormon Studies Review 2 (2015): 19-26.


  • ReligionWise, February 2022
  • Classical Ideas, June 2021
  • Tea for Teaching, September 2021 and December 2018

Courses Taught

REL 101: Religion in the U.S.
REL 216: Introduction to the New Testament
REL 222: Feminist Theologies
REL 225: Religion, Bodies, and Sexualities
REL 234: African American Religion and Theology
REL 237: Jesus in Film and Pop Culture
REL 240: History of Christianity
REL 250: Disney's Enchantment: Narrative, Magic, and Self-Discovery (3 week intensive)
REL 343: Mormonism and America
REL 350: Catholicism: Sex, Gender, and the Sacred
REL 415: The Holocaust: Topics in History and Theology
FYS: Discovering Disney (First-year Seminar)
HIS/REL 250: Title IX