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michelle wolff

Michelle Wolff

Assistant Professor of Religion

Dr. Michelle Wolff teaches courses on ethics, religion, Christian theology, race, gender, and sexuality. South African-born, and U.S.-raised, Dr. Wolff was a first-generation college student (they/them pronouns).

Dr. Wolff was a 2016-2017 American Association of University Women dissertation fellow and completed a Ph.D. in Christian theology and ethics, certificate in College Teaching, and certificate in Feminist Studies at Duke University in 2017.

They were selected for the Wabash Center's 2021-22 Teaching and Learning Workshop for Early Career Religion Faculty Teaching Undergraduates.

Scholarly publications

Dr. Wolff's book manuscript "Intersex scholar-priest and activist Sally Gross (1953-2014)" is in process.

Guest editor with David Rubin and Amanda Swarr of "The Intersex Issue," special issue for Transgender Studies Quarterly, forthcoming May 2022.

"Companion Sex Robots: Racialized Household Economics" Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 2021, Vol. 37, No. 2, 43-64 DOI:10.2979/jfemistudreli.37.2.04.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholars Award Third Place*

“A Diptych Reading of Christ’s Transfiguration: Trans and Intersex Aesthetics Reveal Baptismal Identity,” Theology & Sexuality, 2019, Vol. 25, No. 1-2, pp. 1-12 DOI: 10.1080/13558358.2019.1636173.

“Karl Barth’s Christology and Jan Christian Smuts’ Human Rights Rhetoric,” Stellenbosch Theological Journal, December Vol. 5, No. 1.

“Madonna and Child of Soweto: Black Life Beyond Apartheid and Democracy,” Political Theology, 2018, Vol 19, Issue 7, pp. 572-592 DOI: 10.1080/1462317X.2018.1450468.


Christian Ethics

Students enrolled in Christian Ethics work in small groups to produce creative projects based on one of the following womanist methods: radical subjectivity, traditional communalism, redemptive self-love, critical engagement, or appropriation and reciprocity. Informed by course readings, each group utilizes womanism to address contemporary concerns of race, gender, and class. 

Creative projects

Cece Vu and Thao Chu turned their class project into a book that has been published "Womanist Dictionary: Womanism as a Second Language" (Excellence in Liberal Arts Award, presented at National Women's Studies Association annual conference 2021).

Students have written papers on a variety of topics:

Dr. Wolff co-authored an article with undergraduate Aviana Zahara on the ethics of gender selection.

Sexual Ethics

Students enrolled in Dr. Wolff's Sexual Ethics course write papers about technology, intimacy, and the economic politics of sexual ethics. All papers engage the required reading for the course, and some papers focus on the films viewed during the course. Students have written about:

  • "Moonlight"(Mary Wollstonecraft first place)
  • Sports (Mary Wollstonecraft honorable mention short analytical essay award)

Race, Ethnicity, and Religion

Students enrolled in Race, Ethnicity, & Religion with Dr. Wolff historicize constructions of race and religion from the modern period to the present. In addition to reading theory, we engage in place learning by exploring the Quad Cities, visiting the Black Hawk Historical Site and Figge Art Museum, and Augustana College's Special Collections.

Students have written about:

*About the Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholars Award: "Wolff’s article 'brings together very different areas–robotics, womanist ethics and African theology—and therefore is innovative and provocative, and it offers an important antiracist analysis,” according to one judge. “The article makes a new contribution by raising fundamental questions about what defines humanity (and therefore women) as distinct from robots, by illuminating the gendered and racialized nature of human-robot interactions (including abuse), and by using womanist ethics and African theology to make the case that companion sex robots are ultimately not a solution to loneliness and isolation. It does further discussion on important feminist issues of personhood, domestic violence, sex work, care labor, and gendered racism. Ultimately the focus on companion sex robots enables us to think more deeply about just human-human interaction and an antiracist (if not anti-robot) future.'"


  • B.A., Westmont College
  • M.T.S., Duke Divinity School
  • Ph.D., Duke University