William Chavez

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

William Chavez, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Stetson University. He studies the doom and gloom of religious imagination. He specializes in legacy media (film, comics, television) and new digital media (video games, social media, and online fields of play), employing ethnographic fieldwork and discourse analysis in his research and pedagogy.

  • PhD, Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2022.
  • MA, Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2018.
  • BA. Religion, University of Rochester, New York, 2013.
  • BS, Mathematics, University of Rochester, New York, 2013. 


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A scholar of American religion, folklore, and popular culture, William contributes to the collaborative Gaming+ Project, organized by Daigengna Duoer, Keita Moore, and Kaitlyn Ugoretz (UC Santa Barbara). William appears as a gamer/guest on the Folkwise podcast/Twitch stream, hosted by Dominick Tartaglia (Florida Folklife Program) and Daisy Ahlstone (Ohio State University). He serves as the co-chair of the Religion, Media, and Culture Unit at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting. Most excitingly, he is co-developing an edited volume with Valeria Dani (Cornell University) on the material and ideological intersections between horror media and class.

More About William Chavez

Areas of Expertise

  • Religions of North America
  • Popular Culture and Media
  • Folklore and Vernacular Religion
  • Early Christianity

Course Sampling

  • 217A: Religious Approaches to Death.
  • 100B: Introduction to Biblical Literature
  • 101B: Christianity in the Americas
  • 342B: History of Satan
  • 221H: History of Early Christianity
  • 300(E)V-JS: Religion and Video Games (Writing Enhanced)
  • 317V: The Gospels
  • Religion and Disney

  • Christianity in the Americas
  • Global Catholicism
  • Horror and Comedy
  • Disney Studies
  • Religion and Video Games
  • Material Culture

  • "Media Sensationalism: True Case Files along the Folklore-Popular Culture Continuum." In Reel Demonology: Ed and Lorraine Warren and The Conjuring Universe, ed. Todd K. Platts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press (in press, 2024).
  • "Transmedial Trumpism: Strongman Politics Via Popular Caricature," w/ Shyam K. Sriram. In Interrogating the Visual Culture of Trumpism, eds. Natalie Phillips and Grant Hamming. New York: Routledge (in press, 2024).
  • "Say His Name: Candyman (2021) as a Critique of Black Trauma Porn." In Culture Wars and Horror Movies: Social Fears and Ideology in Contemporary Cinema, eds. Noelia Gregorio-Fernndez and Carmen M. Mndez-Garca. London: Palgrave MacMillan (in press, 2024).
  • "Lankester Merrin, Abraham Van Helsing, and the Traditions of Kosmic Kombat in Popular Christian Media." Supernatural Studies 9:1 (2023), 71-96. Special Issue: The Exorcist Studies on Possession, Influence, and Society. 
  • "Old Stories, New Victims: Possession of Men in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 (1985) and Demon (2015)." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 9:1 (2023), 154-173.
  • "'What If We Were Savage?' Mad Max Transmedia as Speculative Anthropology," w/ Shyam K. Sriram. Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 35:1 (2023), 21-35.
  • "Post-Christianity and Esotericism: A Study of a Satanic Exorcist." In Living Folk Religions (2023), eds. Sravana Borkataky-Varma and Aaron Ullrey, 257-274. London: Routledge. 
  • "Modern Practice, Archaic Ritual: Catholic Exorcism in America." Religions 12:10, 811 (2021), 1-27.
  • "He Who Laughs Last! Terrorists, Nihilists, and Jokers," w/ Luke McCracken. Journal of Religion & Film 25:1 (2021), 1-61.