Visiting Associate Professor, Religion, Spirituality, and Society
Tanya Erzen is director of the new Crime, Law, & Justice Studies minor and program and the B.A. in Liberal Studies program for Puget Sound FEPPS students at the Washington Correction Center for Women. She is also an Associate Research Professor in Religion, Spirituality, & Society and Gender & Queer Studies. Her writing and research focus on American religion and politics, gender studies, and critical prison studies.
In 2022, Erzen was awarded a Mellon Foundation-funded "Revitalizing the Humanities in the Pacific Northwest" grant and an ACLS Sustaining Public Engagement Grant. 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.
Erzen is working on a book about gender and freedom after long sentences and a collaborative archival project on gender and the carceral state in Washington. She 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.
Selected Media on Prof. Erzen’s research
- CSPAN "God in Captivity: Interview with Tanya Erzen"
- KUOW Interview about Faith-Based Groups in Prison
- TEDx on Prisons and Higher Education
- NPR Fresh Air Interview about Straight to Jesus
Selected Media on FEPPS and Crime, Law and Justice
- White House Invites FEPPS and University of Puget Sound to Criminal Justice Panel
- Arches Magazine, "Breaking Down the Walls: Lessons From Freedom Education Project Puget Sound"
- South Sound Magazine, “Trapped Bodies, Freed Minds”
- Seattle Times, "Joy, tears as 19 Washington prison inmates earn college degrees"
- Seattle Times, "Behind bars, college is back in session in some Washington prisons"
- King 5 "Program helps women earn college degrees behind bars"
- "Collins Memorial Library Prepares to Meet Needs of Student-Prisoners in FEPPS Program"
- “UPS Ethics Bowl Competes in First Ever Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl at WCCW"