Interview: Alexiana Fry

School/Institution:

Stellenbosch University

Areas of Interest/Research:

Feminist Theory, Trauma Hermeneutics, Migration Studies, Old Testament

What is it about your field that you love researching?

When most people hear what I research, they tend to run as far away from me as they possibly can. I love the intersections of my research, and how pertinent they are not just to the Old Testament and my work, but to the realities of everyday life. My field has been transformative personally as I grow in understanding, these lenses necessary in what I previously lacked as I move towards empathy and advocacy. If people stick around long enough to hear me chat about these fields, you can almost see the gears clicking in their brains, a new perspective they may have never considered before that helps their own lives too. As trite as it may sound, my love for God has only become deeper and wider in my studying, and that itself is a tremendous gift.

What is one “big idea” in your scholarship?

Without giving away the whole of my dissertation, which I am extremely paranoid about, the one “big idea” in my scholarship is simply to be reading the Bible from more of a decolonized lens of trauma in literature. Understanding the effects of trauma on a people group, even though the way things are processed are different depending on the culture, is extremely beneficial to working through many “problem” texts. There is also an odd beauty in coming to terms with the truth of the traumatized authorship, that it is certainly not a disqualification—while we shouldn’t glorify the things that make people resilient, it also goes to show that trauma itself is never the whole story.

What is your current research about?

I am working through the intersections of my lenses in the two texts of Judges 19 and Hosea 9-10. I do a lot of comparative research between modern day responses from (white) evangelicals to things like feminism and migration and the effects of that lens on their reading of texts as well, and what it means for how one lives their lives. Seeing as even the book of Hosea beyond chapters 1-3 is more or less ignored for the most part, and don’t get me started on the purposeful ignorance of Judges 19, it is no wonder that the phrase, “how we read is how we live,” lines up with the willful silence, or complete disagreements, in both of these spheres.

Who is one of your academic heroes and why do you admire them?

It is so hard to choose, but I have to go with my supervisor on this one. I get the honor of working with Juliana Claassens at Stellenbosch, and she is a force to be reckoned with. Not only is she leading her department, but encouraging all who work with her to lean towards justice. Her work in gender studies as well as trauma literature has been one of the many reasons I have taken up this research, and am consistently inspired by her advice. She also writes like she’s “running out of time,” and I would love to write like this. 🙂

What books have been formative for you in your study? Why were they so important? How did they shape you?

Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology by Kwok Pui-lan, and similarly, Intersectional Theology: An Introductory Guide by Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Susan M. Shaw, are the first two that immediately come to mind. Both were books that showed me that the deep pits in my stomach could be followed; that there wasn’t just one way to interpret these words I saw as sacred, that white, male interpretations are not god, nor are they objective. Pui-lan writes, “We cannot understand ourselves without listening to others, especially to those we have oppressed or have the potential to oppress. Such critical engagement is the beginning of solidarity.” The notion that Kim and Shaw move towards as justice being the bias has been formative for me, and is a huge part of my work and hopefully, will continue to be.

Do you have any publications we can showcase?

I wrote a blog post for Feminist Studies in Religion this year (https://www.fsrinc.org/trauma-and-the-other-for-better-or-worse/) and will have a publication out by AAR on trauma-informed pedagogy that releases during the conference. 

Where can we follow you online?

You can follow me on twitter @alexianadlou!

I also blog, though it’s less than academic in nature and more personal, at mygivingofthanks.com

If we ran into you at SBL/AAR and you didn’t want to talk about your field what would you want to talk about?

Probably my two pugs, Cortado and Toast. I’m also a massive coffee snob, and my other hobby is reading, so please discuss any of the latest fiction with me. I used to own a small indoor houseplant shop here in West Michigan, so if you’re looking for the latest tips and tricks on how to keep those alive, I’ve got you more than covered.

Other than your thesis, what research/writing project are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

I’ll have something launched at the blog over at CBE in the Spring, but am earnestly focusing in on anything dissertation related so I can graduate and move on! I did, however, love working with IBR in their Biblical Violence group with a new introduction on Speech Act Theory. This paper I’ll deliver during the annual conference, and it was an excellent tool to learn about and work with.

>> Thank you so much Alexiana for taking the time to share a bit about yourself and your work.


Are you a PhD student or Early Career Researcher working in Religion or Biblical Studies? If so, we’d like to hear from you. This website is dedicated solely to interviewing PhD students and ECRs on who they are, what they love about their work, and what has inspired them. If you’d like to be interviewed, head over to the Contact page and fill out the form. There’s no catch. Don’t be shy. Self-promotion is a virtue.

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