Tanya Erzen

Tanya Erzen

Associate Professor, Religion, Spirituality, and Society and Director, Freedom Education Project Puget Sound

Tanya Erzen directs the Crime, Law, & Justice Studies minor and the B.A. in Liberal Studies program for Puget Sound students at the Washington Correction Center for Women with the Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS). In 2023, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Grant to write a book entitled Runaways, Delinquents and Unruly Girls: The Long History of Imprisoning Girls 1910 to the Present. The project is also part of a collaboration with Puget Sound students inside and outside the prison to build a digital archive of gender and incarceration in Washington. She is the PI on the Mellon Foundation Humanities for all Time grant to bring humanities approaches to the Crime, Law and Justice program, and a grant to support teaching and learning in prison from the Ascendium Education Group.

In 2022 and 2021, Erzen was awarded a Mellon Foundation-funded "Revitalizing the Humanities in the Pacific Northwest" grant for the archive project. With an ACLS Sustaining Public Engagement Grant, she collaborates with FEPPS alumni and professors on a project about Freedom and the Afterlives of Long Prison Sentences. She has been a Soros Justice Media fellow and a Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence. She has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, American Association of University Women and the Social Science Research Council.

Professor Erzen is the author of God in Captivity: The Rise of Faith-Based Ministries in an Age of Mass Incarceration, (Beacon Press, 2017); Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-Gay Movement (California, 2006), which received the Ruth Benedict Prize and the Gustave O Arlt award; Fanpire: The Religion of Twilight (Beacon Press, 2012); and co-editor of Zero Tolerance: Quality of Life and the New Police Brutality in New York City (NYU, 2001).

She is the Faculty Director and one of the founders of the Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, an organization that provides college classes to women in Washington prisons and seeks to educate the public about educational access and incarceration. FEPPS is a Signature Initiative of the University of Puget Sound. In 2020, FEPPS received support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a BA program at the Washington Corrections Center for Women. The first cohort of BA students will graduate in June 2024.

Selected Media on Prof. Erzen’s research

Selected Media on FEPPS and Crime, Law and Justice

BA Brown University 1995
MPHIL New York University 1998
PhD New York University 2002
Magic and the Supernatural CONN 166-B Fall 2024
Crime and Punishment CONN 318-A Fall 2024

Contact Information

Wyatt 130