Assistant Professor of Religion
M.A., Ph.D., History of Religions, University of Virginia
B.A., Asian Studies, Connecticut College
Teaching and Research Interests:
• Buddhist Studies
• Tibetan and Himalayan Religion
• Hinduism and Religion in South Asia
• Shamanism and Indigenous Religions
• Theory and Method in the Study of Religion
• Religious Narrative and Historiography
• Ritual and Performance Studies
• Tibetan Language
As a teacher of religion, I invite students to engage in the sympathetic yet critical study of a diversity of traditions from a host of vantage points. By drawing upon various approaches-- ranging from the historical and philosophical to the literary and anthropological-- I strive to promote informed and sustained reflection upon the expressions, developments, and communities that comprise some of the most fascinating and influential traditions continually shaping our world. In thinking about the subject matter of religions that are often wholly unfamiliar, students often gain new and valuable perspective upon their own social, cultural, and religious backgrounds, while also developing a mature understanding of others that is highly relevant in our increasingly global society.
As a scholar of Buddhist and Bön culture in Tibet, I'm interested in how Tibetan religious literature both reflects and shapes ideas about sanctity, society, and sectarian boundaries. My doctoral dissertation examines how authorship and the representation of past events represents acts that are both religious and political, and raises questions about the blurring of boundaries between history and hagiography in Tibetan life-writing. Centered on a study and translation of the biographies of an influential 20th century representative of the Bön religion, my research explores the localized expression of religious ideals amidst the backdrop of Bön tradition and Buddhist ecumenicism.
Projects and Publications:
My current research interests center on preparing my study and translation of the life of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen for publication, and on continuing to read and reflect on this important Bön figure's literary works-- especially those concerning the Dzokchen (rdzogs chen) or Great Perfection tradition.
For Hendrix Students, I also have plans to develop Odyssey modules in the near future that will focus on travel to and study of the religious cultures of Hindu India and Buddhist Tibet.