Dr. Wesley N. Barker

Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Department of Liberal Studies


  • B.A., Emory University
  • M.T.S., Duke University
  • Ph.D., Religion, Emory University

Dr. Barker joined Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement in 2013. Dr. Barker earned a Ph.D. in Religion from Emory University’s Graduate Division of Religion. She holds a Master’s of Theological Studies from Duke University and graduate certificates in Women’s and Gender Studies from both Emory and Duke Universities. Dr. Barker’s love for teaching is evident in the energy she brings to a classroom; her intensity and expressiveness in the classroom are balanced by her sense of humor, approachability, and genuine concerns for her students.

Courses taught

Dr. Barker teaches courses in religious studies, gender studies, and literary studies.

Research and professional interests

Dr. Barker’s research concerns the intersections of feminist literary theory, Continental philosophy, and religious ethics. Dr. Barker has delivered numerous conference presentations in her field at national and international meetings. Beyond her areas of disciplinary expertise and training, Dr. Barker has presented on pedagogy in religious studies and co-authored an article on curriculum development, “Creating Intentional Pathways: The STIRS Institutional Phase,” for the AAC&U’s Peer Review (2016). As part of her commitment to the profession, Dr. Barker has held leadership positions with regional, national, and international scholarly organizations. Select positions include serving as president of the Southeast Region of the American Academy of Religion from 2021-2022 and co-chairing the Body and Religion Unit for the American Academy of Religion’s Annual Meeting. Dr. Barker is also on the Executive Board of the Luce Irigaray Circle philosophical society and served as Conference Director for the Circle’s 2022 meeting.

Recent publications

Dr. Barker recently submitted her monograph, Desire Beyond Sexual Difference: Ethics, Politics, and the “Anatomy” of Alterity in Irigaray, for publication.  Dr. Barker is currently co-editing a special issue of the journal of Body and Religion that focuses on embodiment in Irigaray’s work and its significance for religious studies. As part of her ongoing work with the Irigaray Circle, Dr. Barker is also co-editing a collection of essays, Thresholds of Difference: Irigaray and Beyond. In addition to the peer reviewed publications listed below, Dr. Barker contributed multiple entries and a lead-in article to editors George Thomas Kurian and Mark A. Lamport’s Encyclopedia of Christian Education (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).

  • Barker, Wesley N. “An Ethic of Lips: Beyond the Wounding of Desire” in Ruthanne Crapo Kim, Yvette Russell, and Brenda Sharp, eds. Horizons of Difference: Rethinking Space, Place and Identity with Irigaray (SUNY, 2022).
  • Barker, Wesley N. “Thresholds of Touch: Revisiting the Mat(t)er of the Body in the Work of Luce Irigaray.” Journal of Body and Religion Vol. 4., No. 1 (2020).
  • Bobby Jacob, Tuong-Vi Huynh, Annesha White, Angela Shogbon Nwaesei, Robyn Lorys, Wesley Barker, Jeffrey Hall, Lucy Bush and W. Loyd Allen. “A Comparison of First Year Student Pharmacists and Nursing Students on Spirituality and Perceptions Regarding the Role of Spirituality in Professional Education.” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education84.9 (2020).
  •  Barker, Wesley N. “Is the Mother Other? Desire and the Ethics of Maternality.” Theology & Sexuality, 19.3 (2013).

Contact Dr. Barker