Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Deborah Whitehead

Second Advisor

Deepti Misri

Third Advisor

Denice Walker

Fourth Advisor

Robert Buffington


This thesis project is an interdisciplinary study of the contemporary mass-market fiction genre urban fantasy. It provides an intersectional feminist analysis of the urban fantasy genre’s significance for both religious studies and women’s studies. It examines how the city is imagined as a racialized locus of power and magic and how women utilize the genre’s conventions to explore and depict issues of gendered and sexualized violence against women through narratives of supernatural transformation. It also contextualizes urban fantasy in a recent surge of critique by authors and readers against the science fiction and fantasy publishing industry’s tendency to erase people of color from a genre defined by depictions of urban life. In so doing, this thesis demonstrates the vital religious work urban fantasy and popular culture more broadly conducts in individuals’ lives and argues that analyzing the religious functions of popular culture through intersectional feminist lenses is critical for religious studies scholars to fully understand the impact of popular culture on the religious lives and worlds of individuals.