School of Humanities and Sciences
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Associate Professor of Religious Studies
BioAnna Bigelow is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. She received her MA from Columbia University (1995) and PhD in Religious Studies from UC Santa Barbara (2004) with a focus on South Asian Islam. Her book, Sharing the Sacred: Practicing Pluralism in Muslim North India (Oxford University Press, 2010) is a study of a Muslim majority community in Indian Punjab and the shared sacred and civic spaces in that community. Bigelow's current projects include a comparative study of shared sacred sites in India and Turkey and an edited volume on material objects in Islamic cultures.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies and, by courtesy, of Classics and of German Studies
BioCharlotte Elisheva Fonrobert specializes in Judaism: talmudic literature and culture. Her interests include gender in Jewish culture; the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in Late Antiquity; the discourses of orthodoxy versus heresy; the connection between religion and space; and rabbinic conceptions of Judaism with respect to GrecoRoman culture. She is the author of Menstrual Purity: Rabbinic and Christian Reconstructions of Biblical Gender(2000), which won the Salo Baron Prize for a best first book in Jewish Studies of that year and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in Jewish Scholarship. She also co-edited The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature (2007), together with Martin Jaffee (University of Washington). Currently, she is working on a manuscript entitled Replacing the Nation: Judaism, Diaspora and the Neighborhood.
Professor of Religious Studies and, by courtesy, of German Studies, Emerita
BioHester Gelber specializes in late medieval religious thought. She has taught courses on philosophy of religion as well as medieval Christianity. She has written extensively on medieval Dominicans, including: Exploring the Boundaries of Reason: Three Questions on the Nature of God by Robert Holcot OP and most recently It Could Have Been Otherwise: Contingency and Necessity in Dominican Theology at Oxford 1300-1350. She has now retired.
Professor Gelber received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin in 1974 and has taught at Stanford since 1978, beginning as a part-time lecturer in Philosophy before moving to Religious Studies in 1982.
Professor of History and, by courtesy, of Religious Studies and of German Studies
BioFiona Griffiths is a historian of medieval Western Europe, focusing on intellectual and religious life from the ninth to the thirteenth century. Her work explores the possibilities for social experimentation and cultural production inherent in medieval religious reform movements, addressing questions of gender, spirituality, and authority, particularly as they pertain to the experiences and interactions of religious men (priests or monks) with women (nuns and clerical wives). Griffiths is the author of Nuns' Priests' Tales: Men and Salvation in Medieval Women's Monastic Life,The Middle Ages Series (The University of Pennsylvania Press: 2018) and The Garden of Delights: Reform and Renaissance for Women in the Twelfth Century, The Middle Ages Series (The University of Pennsylvania Press: 2007); she is co-editor (with Kathryn Starkey) of Sensory Reflections: Traces of Experience in Medieval Artifacts (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019) and (with Julie Hotchin) of Partners in Spirit: Men, Women, and Religious Life in Germany, 1100-1500 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014). Her essays have appeared in Speculum, Church History, the Journal of Medieval History, and Viator. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; and the Institute of Historical Research (University of London).
George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies, Emeritus
BioVan A. Harvey, Short biographical statement.
Van Harvey was born of Christian missionary parents in China in 1926. The family returned to the United States in 1929 where it took up residence in California. After graduating from High School in 1943, he went into the Naval V-12 program and was commissioned an Ensign in the United Naval Reserve in which he served on a destroyer in the last months of World War II. After his discharge he entered Occidental College where he met his wife, Margaret Lynn, and from which he graduated as a major in philosophy (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1948. He then attended Yale University where he acquired his Ph.D in modern Western religious thought.
He has taught at Yale, Princeton University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University where he retired in 1996 as George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies. He has twice been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship as well as Fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Humanities Center at Stanford. In his last year at Stanford he was honored with the Dean’s Award for Excellence in teaching.
Mr. Harvey's intellectual concerns might roughly be characterized as having to do with the various challenges secular thought has cast up for religious faith in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These concerns are reflected in many articles in professional journals as well as his influential book, The Historian and the Believer. His last major work dealt with one of the most influential critics of religion in the Nineteenth century and was entitled Ludwig Feuerbach and the Interpretation of Religion, (Cambridge, 1995). It won the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in 1996.
Mr. Harvey and his wife have two sons. one is a graphic artist and the other is private tutor in mathematic and English.
Ari Y. Kelman
Jim Joseph Chair in Education and Jewish Studies and Associate Professor, by courtesy, of Religious Studies
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsProfessor Kelman's research focuses on the forms and practices of religious knowledge transmission. His work emerges at the intersection of sociocultural learning theory and scholarly/critical studies of religion, and his methods draw on the social sciences and history. Currently Professor Kelman is at work on a variety of projects ranging from a history of religious education in the post-war period to an inquiry about Google's implicit definitions of religion.
The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Professor of Buddhist Studies
BioProfessor Kieschnick specializes in Chinese Buddhism, with particular emphasis on its cultural history. He is the author of the Eminent Monk: Buddhist Ideals in Medieval China and the Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture. He is currently working on a book on Buddhist interpretations of the past in China, and a primer for reading Buddhist texts in Chinese.
John is chair of the Department of Religious Studies and director of the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford.
Ph.D., Stanford University (1996); B.A., University of California at Berkeley (1986).
Kwoh-Ting Li Professor in Chinese Culture and Professor, by courtesy, of Religious Studies
BioMark Edward Lewis’s research deals with many aspects of Chinese civilization in the late pre-imperial, early imperial and middle periods (contemporary with the centuries in the West from classical Greece through the early Middle Ages), and with the problem of empire as a political and social form.
His first book, Sanctioned Violence in Early China, studies the emergence of the first Chinese empires by examining the changing forms of permitted violence—warfare, hunting, sacrifice, punishments, and vengeance. It analyzes the interlinked evolution of these violent practices to reveal changes in the nature of political authority, in the units of social organization, and in the defining practices and attitudes of the ruling elites. It thus traces the changes that underlay the transformation of the Chinese polity from a league of city-states dominated by aristocratic lineages to a unified, territorial state governed by a supreme autocrat and his agents.
His second book, Writing and Authority in Early China covers the same period from a different angle. It traces the evolving uses of writing to command assent and obedience, an evolution that culminated in the establishment of a textual canon as the foundation of imperial authority. The book examines the full range of writings employed in early China, including divinatory records, written communications with ancestors, government documents, collective writings of philosophical traditions, speeches attributed to historical figures, chronicles, verse anthologies, commentaries, and encyclopedic compendia. It shows how these writings in different ways served to form social groups, administer populations, control officials, invent new models of intellectual and political authority, and create an artificial language whose mastery generated power and whose graphs become potent, almost magical, objects.
His third book, The Construction of Space in Early China, examines the formation of the Chinese empire through its reorganization and reinterpretation of its basic spatial units: the human body, the household, the city, the region, and the world. It shows how each higher unit—culminating in the empire—claimed to incorporate and transcend the units of the preceding level, while in practice remaining divided and constrained by the survival of the lower units, whose structures and tensions they reproduced. A companion volume, The Flood Myths of Early China, shows how these early Chinese ideas about the constituent elements of an ordered, human space—along with the tensions and divisions therein—were elaborated and dramatized in a set of stories about the re-creation of a structured world from a watery chaos that had engulfed it.
In addition to these specialist monographs, Lewis has written the first three volumes of a six-volume survey of the entire history of imperial China: The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han, China Between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties, and China’s Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty. These volumes serve as introductions to the major periods of Chinese history for non-specialists, and as background readings to introductory surveys. In addition to recounting the major political events, they devote chapters to the most important aspects of the society of each period: geographic background, cities, rural society, kinship, religion, literature, and law.
He has completed a new monograph, Honor and Shame in Early China, which traces evolving ideas about honor and shame in the Warring States and early empires in order to understand major developments in the social history of the period. It examines the transformation of elites and the emergence of new groups through scrutinizing differing claims to “honor” (and consequent re-definitions of what was “shameful”) entailed in claiming a public role without necessarily being a noble or an employee of the state.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
BioProfessor Gin Lum specializes in American religious history. Her research and teaching interests focus on religion and race, religion and violence, and the afterlife, evil, and death in America. She is author of the forthcoming Damned Nation: Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction (Oxford University Press). She is an Annenberg Faculty Fellow (2012-14), is affiliated with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), and organizes the American Religions Workshop at Stanford.
Professor Gin Lum received her B.A. from Stanford and her Ph.D. from Yale.
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
BioMichaela Mross specializes in Japanese Buddhism, with a particular emphasis on Sōtō Zen, Buddhist rituals, sacred music, as well as manuscript and print culture in premodern Japan. She has written numerous articles on kōshiki 講式 (Buddhist ceremonials) and co-edited a special issue of the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies on kōshiki. Based on six-years full-time research in Japan, she is currently finishing a book on the development of kōshiki in the Sōtō school. She is further working on a monograph on eisanka 詠讃歌 (Buddhist hymns) and lay Buddhist choirs in contemporary Zen Buddhism. This project will showcase how music played a vital role in the modernization of Japanese Sōtō Zen Buddhism in the last seventy years.
Teresa Hihn Moore Professor of Religious Studies and Professor, by courtesy, of Classics
BioMichael Penn, the Teresa Hihn Moore Professor of Religious Studies, is a specialist in the history of early Christianity with a particular focus on middle eastern Christians who wrote in the Aramaic dialect of Syriac.
Professor Penn’s first book, Kissing Christians: Ritual and Community in the Late Ancient Church, was published in 2005 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. In 2015 he published two books on Christian-Muslim relations: Envisioning Islam: Syriac Christians in the Early Muslim World (University of Pennsylvania Press) and When Christians First Met Muslims: A Source Book of the Earliest Syriac Writings on Islam (University of California Press). For these projects Professor Penn has received awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council for Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, the British Academy, the American Philosophical Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning.
Professor Penn is currently working on an Andrew Mellon Foundation funded collaboration that uses recent advances in the computerized analysis of handwriting to help analyze ancient Aramaic manuscripts. In addition to this work in the digital humanities, Professor Penn has begun several related projects that focus on the history of Syriac Christianity and the manuscripts they produced.
Before joining Stanford, Professor Penn was on the faculty of Mount Holyoke College. He has also taught at Brandeis University, Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, and Duke University. He has additional experience as a secondary school teacher, including six years as the director of forensics at Durham Academy High School, where he ran a nationally competitive policy debate team. Professor Penn has also held research positions at Apple Computers, the Weizmann Institute (Israel), the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital, and Ames Research Center, NASA.
Ph.D. (Religion) Duke University (1999)
A.B. (Molecular Biology) Princeton University (1993)
Walter Y. Evans-Wentz Professor of Oriental Philosophy, Religions and Ethics
BioLee Yearley works in comparative religious ethics and poetics, focusing on materials from China and the West. He is the author of The Ideas of Newman: Christianity and Human Religiosity and Mencius and Aquinas: Theories of Virtue and Conceptions of Courage (recently translated into Chinese), as well as numerous journal articles and essays in edited volumes.
Professor Yearley holds a Ph.D. from University of Chicago.