The Study of Religion

Discusses trajectories, trends, and challenges facing the academic study of religion, and reflects upon the discipline’s future.
      
       
          
Francis X. Clooney, S.J.
Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology and Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School
        
Francis X. Clooney, S.J., joined the Divinity School in 2005. He is Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology and, since 2010, director of the Center for the Study of World Religions. He served as acting director of the CSWR during the 2008 spring term and began a long and active relationship with the Center before coming to HDS, participating in many CSWR programs and events. After earning his doctorate in South Asian languages and civilizations (University of Chicago, 1984), he taught at Boston College for 21 years, until coming to Harvard. His primary areas of scholarship are theological commentarial writings in the Sanskrit and Tamil traditions of Hindu India, and the developing field of comparative theology, a discipline distinguished by attentiveness to the dynamics of theological learning deepened through the study of traditions other than one's own. He has also written on the Jesuit missionary tradition, particularly in India, and the dynamics of dialogue in the contemporary world. Clooney is the author of numerous articles and books, including Beyond Compare: St. Francis de Sales and Sri Vedanta Desika on Loving Surrender to God (Georgetown University Press, 2008), The Truth, the Way, the Life: Christian Commentary on the Three Holy Mantras of the Srivaisnava Hindus (Peeters Publishing, 2008), and Comparative Theology: Deep Learning across Religious Borders (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). He recently edited The New Comparative Theology: Voices from the Next Generation (Continuum, 2010). His latest book, His Hiding Place Is Darkness: A Hindu-Catholic Theopoetics of Divine Absence (Stanford University Press, forthcoming), is an exercise in dramatic theology, exploring the absence of God in accord with the biblical Song of Songs and the Hindu Holy Word of Mouth (Tiruvaymoli). He is a Roman Catholic priest and a member of the Society of Jesus. In July 2010 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.         
     
    
      
Janet Gyatso
Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies, Harvard Divinity School
    
Janet Gyatso is a specialist in Buddhist studies with concentration on Tibetan and South Asian cultural and intellectual history. Her books include Apparitions of the Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary; In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism; and Women of Tibet. She has recently completed a new book, Being Human in a Buddhist World: An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet, which focuses upon alternative early modernities and the conjunctions and disjunctures between religious and scientific epistemologies in Tibetan medicine in the sixteenth–eighteenth centuries. She has also been writing on sex and gender in Buddhist monasticism, and on the current female ordination movement in Buddhism. Previous topics of her scholarship have included visionary revelation in Buddhism; lineage, memory, and authorship; the philosophy of experience; and autobiographical writing in Tibet. Gyatso was president of the International Association of Tibetan Studies from 2000 to 2006, and co-chair of the Buddhism Section of the American Academy of Religion from 2004 to 2010. She teaches lecture courses and advanced seminars on Buddhist history, ritual, and ideas, and on Tibetan literary practices and religious history. In both teaching and writing she draws on cultural and literary theory, and endeavors to widen the spectrum of intellectual resources for the understanding of Buddhist and Tibetan history. She is a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' Committee on the Study of Religion, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies, and is an active participant in the Harvard Buddhist Studies Forum. She is also involved in the development of a new track for the training of Buddhist lay ministers and leaders in the master of divinity program at HDS. Gyatso taught at Amherst College before coming to Harvard as the Divinity School's first Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies.
     
     
    
Amy Hollywood
Elizabeth H. Monrad Professor of Christian Studies, Harvard Divinity School
  
Amy Hollywood came to HDS in 2005 after teaching at Rhodes College, Dartmouth College, and the University of Chicago. She is the author of The Soul as Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart (University of Notre Dame Press, 1995), which received the Otto Grundler Prize for the best book in medieval studies from the International Congress of Medieval Studies; Sensible Ecstasy: Mysticism, Sexual Difference, and the Demands of History (University of Chicago Press, 2002); and, forthcoming from Columbia University Press, Acute Melancholia and Other Essays. She is also the co-editor, with Patricia Beckman, of The Cambridge Companion to Christian Mysticism (2012). Professor Hollywood is currently exploring the place of the mystical, often redescribed as enthusiasm, within modern philosophy, theology, and poetry.