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Scholarly Interest Report
         
Jeffrey J. Kripal
Professor
J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religion
 
e-mail:jjkripal@rice.edu
 
  • Ph.D. History of Religions (1993) University of Chicago, Chicago
  • B.A. Religion (1985) Conception Seminary College, Conception, Missouri
  • M.A. Religion (1987) University of Chicago, Chicago
 
Primary Department
   Department of Religion
Picture
 
Department Affiliations
 
  • Asian Studies
  • School of Humanities
  •  
    Websites
     official Rice University website
     official Rice website
     
    Research Areas
     history of religions, American metaphysical religion, religion and gender, Western gnosticism, esotericism, and mysticism
     

    Bio and Research Statement.

     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University, where he is also the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies.  He is the author of Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal (Chicago, 2011), Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred (Chicago, 2010), Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion (Chicago, 2007), The Serpent’s Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion (Chicago, 2007), Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom: Eroticism and Reflexivity in the Study of Mysticism (Chicago, 2001), and Kali’s Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna (Chicago, 1995).   He has also co-edited volumes with: Wouter Hanegraaff on eroticism and esotericism, Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism (University of Amsterdam Press, 2008); Glenn W. Shuck on the history of Esalen and the American counterculture, On the Edge of the Future: Esalen and the Evolution of American Culture (Indiana, 2005); Rachel Fell McDermott on a popular Hindu goddess, Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West (California, 2003); G. William Barnard on the ethical critique of mystical traditions, Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism (Seven Bridges, 2002); and T.G. Vaidyanathan of Bangalore, India, on the dialogue between psychoanalysis and Hinduism, Vishnu on Freud’s Desk: A Reader in Psychoanalysis and Hinduism (Oxford, 1999).  His present areas of interest include the revisioning and renewal of the comparative method, the comparative erotics of mystical literature, American countercultural translations of Asian religious traditions, and the history of Western esotericism from ancient Gnosticism to the New Age.  He is presently writing a textbook on how to compare religions for Wiley-Blackwell entitled Comparing Religions: A Textbook Initiation.  


     

     
    Teaching Areas
     history of religions, American metaphysical religion, religion and gender, Asian religions in America, Western esotericism, the human potential movement and the New Age, the psychology of religion
     
    Selected Publications
     Abstracts
     "Brave New Worldview: The Renaissance of Aldous Huxley," Chronicle of Higher Education, December 12, 2008
     
     “The Roar of Awakening: The Eros of Esalen and the Western Tantric Transmission,” for Wouter J. Hanegraaff and Jeffrey J. Kripal, eds., Hidden Intercourse: Essays on Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism
     
     "Reality Against Society: William Blake, Antinomianism, and the American Counter Culture," Common Knowledge, 13:1 (winter 2007)
     
     Refereed articles
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal "“Better Horrors: From Terror to Communion in Whitley Strieber’s Communion (1987)"." Social Research, 81/4: 897-921.

     
     

    “Perspectives on ‘Sacred Moments’ in Psychotherapy,” with James W. Lomax, M.D., and Kenneth I. Pargament, Ph.D, American Journal of Psychiatry 168:1 (January 2011)

     
     ¿Re-membering Ourselves: Some Countercultural Echoes of Contemporary Tantric Studies,¿ lead-essay of inaugural issue, Journal of South Asian Religion 1/1, summer 2007
     
     ¿Sexuality and Eroticism,¿ Handbook of Religion and the Emotions, ed. by John Corrigan (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007)
     
     ¿Western Popular Culture, Hindu Influences On,¿ in Denise Cush, Catherine Robinson, and Michael York, eds., The Encyclopedia of Hinduism (London: Routledge/Curzon, 2007)
     
     . Liminal Pedagogy: The Liberal Arts and the Transforming Ritual of Religious Studies, in James Boyd White, ed., How Should We Talk About Religion? Perspectives, Contexts, Particularities (Fort Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006)
     
     ¿Reality Against Society: William Blake, Antinomianism, and the American Counter Culture,¿ Common Knowledge, 13:3 (Winter 2006)
     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal ""Phallus and Vagina"." Encyclopedia of Religion (2005)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal ""Sexuality (Overview)"." The Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd edition (2005)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal ""Sexuality and Eroticism"." Handbook of Religion and the Emotions (2005) In Press

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal ""Being John Woodroffe: Reflections on the Postcolonial Study of Hindu Tantra"." Identity and the Politics of Religious Studies (2004)

     
     

    Kripal, J. ""Textuality, Sexuality, and the Future of the Past: A Response to Swami Tyagananda"." Evam: Forum on Indian Representations, 1:1-2 (2002) : 191-205.

     
     Articles
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal "“From Emerson to Esalen: America’s Religion of No Religion” (reprint)." The Daily Beast, May 23, 2015

     
     

    “Visions of the Impossible: how ‘fantastic’ stories unlock the nature of consciousness,” The Chronicle Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 4, 2014.

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, “The Future Human: Mircea Eliade and the Fantastic Mutant,” for Norman Girardot and Bryan Rennie, eds., special issue on “Remembering, Reimagining, Revalorizing Mircea Eliade,” Archaevs. Studies in History of Religions 15 (2011)

     
     

    William B. Parsons and Jeffrey J. Kripal ""Psychology and Religion at Rice University: A Brief History" ." 

     
     "The Rise of the Imaginal: Psychical Phenomena on the Horizon of Theory (Again)," Religious Studies Review 33:3 (2007)
     
     ¿From Altered States to Altered Categories (and Back Again): Academic Method and the Human Potential Movement,¿ University of Chicago Divinity School Religion and Culture Web Forum, April, 2007
     
     ¿From Emerson to Esalen: America¿s Religion of No Religion,¿ The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 13, 2007
     
     ¿Mysticism,¿ in Robert Segal, ed., Handbook on the Study of Religion (London: Blackwell, 2006)
     
     ¿Listening to the Snake, or On Having a Spine,¿ Hindu-Christian Studies Newsletter Summer 2006
     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal ""Comparative Mystics: Scholars as Gnostic Diplomats"." Common Knowledge, 10/3 (2004)

     
     Books
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, with Ata Anzali, Andrea R. Jain and Erin Prophet, Comparing Religions: Coming to Terms (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014).

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, Authors of the Impossible: The Sacred and the Paranormal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, Autores de lo Imposible: Lo paranormal y lo sagrado (Barcelona: Kairos, 2012), translation of Authors of the Impossible

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).

     
     Jeffrey J. Kripal, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007)
     
     The Serpent¿s Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006)
     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal "Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion." In Revision

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal "The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion." In Press

     
     Editor of books
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, ed. "Religion: Sources, Perspectives, Methods." Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Religion, 1

     
     

    Sudhir Kakar and Jeffrey J. Kripal, eds., Seriously Strange: Thinking Anew about Psychical Experiences (New York: Viking, 2012)

     
     Wouter J. Hanegraaff and Jeffrey J. Kripal, Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexualit in the History of Western Esotericism (Leiden: Brill, 2008)
     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal and Glenn W. Shuck, eds. "On the Edge of the Future: Esalen and the Evolution of American Culture."  (2005)

     
     

    Kripal, J. "Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West."  (Berkeley) In Press

     
     

    Kripal, J. "Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism."  (2002) : 471.

     
     Book chapters
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal "“Introduction: A Story About How We Got Here"." Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Religion

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal "“Super Religion: Reimagining the Supernatural in the Study of Religion"." Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Religion, 1

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal "“The Traumatic Secret: Bataille and the Comparative Erotics of Mystical Literature” ." Jeremy Biles and Kent Brintnall, eds., Negative Ecstasies: Georges Bataille and the Study of Religion (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015): 153-168.

     
     

    “An Island in Mind: Aldous Huxley and the Neurotheologian,” for Dinesh Sharma, ed., Psychoanalysis, Culture, and Religions: Essays in Honor of Sudhir Kakar (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, “Les vies secrètes des super-pouvoirs: la littérature de la vision à distance, et l’imaginal,” trans. by Antoine Faivre in Antoine Faivre and Silvia Mancini, eds., Techniques du corps et de l’esprit dans les deux Ameriqués: Continuités et discontinuités culturelles (Paris: Éditions Imago, 2012)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, "Mind Matters: Esalen's Sursem Group and the Ethnography of Consciousness," for Ann Taves and Courtney Bender, eds., What Matters? Ethnographies of Value in a (Not So) Secular Age (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, “Reading Russian Mystical Literature Upside Down,” Conclusion commissioned for Birgit Menzel, Michael Hagemeister, and Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal, eds., The New Age of Russia: Occult and Esoteric Dimensions (Munich: Kubon and Sagner, 2012)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, "The Dominant, the Damned, and the Discs: The Metaphysical Liberalism of Charles Fort," for  Leigh Eric Schmidt and Sally Pomey, eds., American Liberal Religion (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012)

     
     

    “The Future of Religion: Why Limit Ourselves?” in Kathleen Mulhern, ed., The Future of Religion: Traditions in Transition (Englewood, Colorado: Patheos Press, 2012)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, "Understanding the Nature of Our Offense: A Dialogue on the Twenty-First Century  Study of Religion for Use in the Classroom," co-written with Laurie Patton, for Brian K. Pennington and Amir Hussain, eds., Teaching Religion and Violence (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, "Being Blake: Antinomian Thought, Counterculture, and the Art of the History of Religions," in David Haberman and Laurie Patton, eds., Notes from a Mandala: Essays in the History of Religions in Honor of Wendy Doniger (University of Delaware Press, 2010)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, “Secrets in the Seats: The Erotic, the Paranormal, and the Free Spirit,” for William B. Parsons, ed., Teaching Mysticism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, "The Evolving Siddhis: Yoga and Tantra in the Psychical Research Tradition and Beyond," for Knut A. Jacobsen, ed., Yoga Powers: Extraordinary Capacities Attained through Meditation and Concentration (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2011)

     

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal ""Reading Aurobindo at Esalen: Some Tantric Patterns in the Early History and Literature of Esalen"." Jeffrey J. Kripal and Glenn W. Shuck, eds., On the Edge of the Future: Esalen and the Evolution of American Culture (2005)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal ""Riding the Dawn Horse: Adi Da and the Eros of Nonduality"." Gurus in America (2005)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal ""Riding the Dawn Horse: Adi Da and the Eros of Nonduality"." Mahagurus and Their Movement in a Global Context (2005) In Press

     
     

    Kripal, J. ""Introducing Kali Studies"." Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West (2003) : 1-19.

     
     

    Kripal, J. ""Teaching the Hindu Tantra with Freud: Psychoanalysis as Critical Theory and Mystical Technique"." Diane Jonte-Pace, ed., Teaching Freud in Religious Studies (2003) : 213-237.In Press

     
     

    Kripal, J. ""Why the Tantrika Is a Hero: Kali in the Psychoanalytic Tradition"." Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West (2003) : 196-222.In Press

     
     

    Kripal, J. ""Debating the Mystical as the Ethical: An Indological Map"." Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism (2002) : 15-69.

     
     

    Kripal, J. ""Introducting Kali Studies"." Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West (2003) : 1-19.

     
     

    Kripal, J. ""On the Ethics of Crossing Boundaries in Academic Writing"." Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism (2002) : 465-468.

     
     

    Kripal, J. ""Seeing Inside and Outside the Goddess: The Mystical and the Ethical in the Teachings of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda"." Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism (2002) : 230-264.

     
     Book reviews
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, “How We Got to Super: Grant Morrison’s Visionary Gnosticism,” for on-line magazine Religion Dispatches, 18 August 2011

     
     

    "¿In the Spirit of Hermes: Reflections on the Work of Jorge N. Ferrer,¿ Tikkun 18/2 (March- April 2003): 67-70. ." Tikkun, 18/2 (Apr/2003)

     
     Dramatic works
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, “Oz Spirit,” for Social Science Research Council web magazine on modern spiritualities, Frequencies, 15 August 2011

     
     Other
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal "Foreword for Esotericism in African American Religious Experience: “There Is a Mystery,” ed. by Stephen C. Finley, Margarita Simon Guillory, and Hugh R. Page, Jr. (Leiden: Brill, 2015)." Leiden: Brill

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, “Michael Murphy in the Land of Oz,” for Jay Ogilvy, ed., An Actual Man: Michael Murphy and the Human Potential Movement (Berkeley: Minuteman Press, 2010)

     
     

    Jeffrey J. Kripal, “Mystics and Mutants: The Paranormal in Pop Culture,” commissioned essay for The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 December 2011

     
     

    One of ten annotators chosen for The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, eds. Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011)

     
     

    "¿Mystical Bodies: Reflections on Amy Hollywood¿s Sensible Ecstasies,¿ Journal of Religion 83/2 (October 2003).." Journal of Religion, 82/2 (Oct/2003)

     
    Creative Works
     Performances - Esalen: The Feature Documentary
     feature documentary project, Stanford University; Big Sur, California; Sausalito, California,
     
    Presentations
     Conference Paper
     

    Hosted and organized annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Religion here at Rice with Prof. Elias Bongmba.

     
     

    "“The Terror that Comes in the Night: Reflections on the Work of David Hufford,” for the Study of Folklore Work Group, American Academy of Religion, San Diego, California." (November 22, 2014)

     
     Invited Papers
     

    ""The Dominant, the Damned, and the Discs: The Metaphysical Liberalism of Charles Fort" ." Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey. (spring 2008)

     
     

    ""Comparative Mystics: Scholars as Gnostic Diplomats"." Boniuk Center, Rice University. (October 18, 2004)

     
     

    I served as co-director of this conference with Elliot Wolfson of NYU..  ""Riding the Dawn Horse: Transforming the Tantra in an American Siddha Tradition"." Eroticism and the Religions, New York University. (19-21 April 2002)

     
     

    ""The Nonlocal Mind: Encountering the Russians at Esalen"." Communal Studies Association, Oneida, New York. (26-29 September 2003)

     
     Invited Talks
     

    “Biological Gods: Science (Fiction) and Some Emergent Mythologies,” University of North Carolina, Wilmington

     
     

    "“The Religion of No Religion: The Spiritual But Not Religious Demographic and Why It’s Deeper Than You Think,” Washington University. ." (13 October 2014)

     
     

    "26th Annual Martin Lecture in Religion, Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts, “Super Sexualities: Altered States of Energy and Erotic Bodies.”." (October 6, 2014)

     
     

    "Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Religion and Sexuality invited lecture on “Super Sexualities: Altered States of Energy and Erotic Bodies,” 10 February 2014." (February 10, 2014)

     
     

    "Middlebury College, Charles P. Scott Lecture Series on “Authors of the Impossible: How to Talk About the Paranormal (Without Sounding Like a Fool),” ." (1 April 2014)

     
     

    "annual “Thomas Lamborn Eliot Lecture on Religion,” Reed College, on “Biological Gods: The New Mythmakers in Science (Fiction)"." (December 8, 2014)

     
     

    ""From Paradise to Paradox: On the Psychospiritual Journey of John Heider"." Autobiography and the Psychology of Religion, University of Lund, Sweden. (October 7, 2006)

     
     

    ""Wild Facts and the Spectre of Magic: On Our Taming Neglect of F. W. H. Myers and Ian Stevenson"." North American Association for the Study of Religion Meeting, Washington, D.C.. (November 24, 2006)

     
     

    "The Religion of No Religion: Esalen as an American Mystical Tradition." 2005 Dugan Lectures, Rice University. (November 16, 2005)

     
     

    ""Narratives of Light, Release and Return: Some Comparative Reflections on Post-Mortem Survival in Modern Psychical Research"." Baylor College of Medicine and Institute of Religion, Medical Center. (4 November 2004)

     
     

    ""The Apocryphon of the Beloved"." "The Erotic Imagination: Refractions of the Spirit," University of Houston Honors College, University of Houston. (October 2, 2004)

     
     

    ""The Serpent's Gift: Censorship and Banning in Scholarship on Christianity"." American Academy of Religion, San Antonio. (November 20, 2004)

     
     

    "¿Comics and Gnostics: Some Mythological Reflections on the Forbidden Knowledge of Religious Studies,¿ plenary address for the Pacific Northwest American Academy of Religion, 26 April 2003.." American Academy of Religion, University of Idaho. (26 April 2003)

     
     

    "¿The Serpent¿s Gift: Teaching Transgression and Practicing Freedom in the American Religious Studies Classroom,¿ University of Idaho, 24 April 2003.." University of Idaho, University of Idaho. (24 April 2003)

     
     Keynote Speaker
     

    “On the Eclipse of the Psyche in the Secular Academy: And Why It Matters," plenary for Post-Secular Workshop, Arizona State University

     
     

    "Keynote speaker for the Department of English: “Mutants, Mystics, Aliens, Outsiders: The Theology of the Paranormal in Popular Culture,” 1 February 2014.." (1 February 2014)

     
     

    ""Remembering Ourselves: Some Notes on the Counterculture of Contemporary Tantric Studies"." Spalding Symposium on the Study of Indian Religions, Jesus College, Oxford University. (March 31, 2006)

     
     Other
     

    "Major Book Tour for my Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion."

     
     

    "International Symposium on Western Esotericism and Occult Literature." Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California. (May 14-19, 2006) With Jeffrey J. Kripal and Wouter Hanegraaff

     
     

    co-director.  "International Symposium on the Philosophy of Panenetheism." Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California. (December 3-8, 2006) With Michael Murphy and Jeffrey J. Kripal

     
    Editorial Positions
     Member of the Editorial Board, Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies of the Preternatural. University of Pennsylvania Press. (2012 - 2012)

     Editor in Chief, Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Religion. Macmillan. (2015 - 2016)

     Member of the Editorial Board, Mind and Matter. Institut fur Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene. (2010 - 2010)

     Member of the Editorial Board, Mind and Matter: An International Interdisciplinary Journal of Mind-Matter Research. Institut fur Grenz-gebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene. (2012 - 2012)

    Supervised Theses & Dissertations
     Ann Gleig, Ph.D. “Enlightenment after Enlightenment: American Transformations of Asian Contemplative Traditions”. (2011) (Thesis Director)

     Daniel Levine, Ph.D. “Earth Matters: Religion, Nature, and Science in the Ecologies of Contemporary America” . (2013) (Thesis Director)

     Ata Anzali, Ph.D. “Safavid Shi’ism, the Eclipse of Sufism and the Emergence of Irfan”. (2013) (Thesis Director)

     Franklin Trammell, Ph.D. “(Re)growing the Tree: Early Christian Mysticism, Angelomorphic Identity, and the Shepherd of Hermas" . (2014) (Thesis Committee Member)

     AnaMarie Seglie, Ph.D. “Sacred Dominion: Anti-Catholicism and Romance of U.S. Imperialism, 18200-1900”. (2015) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Benjamin Brochstein, Ph.D. “Privileged Alchemy: Syncretism and Prevarication from the Renaissance into the Enlightenment through the Early Royal Society and Freemasonry”. (2015) (Thesis Director)

     Linda Ceriello, Ph.D. “The Accidental Mystic: Contemporary Narratives of Western Secular Spiritual Experiences”. (2016) (Thesis Director)

     Matthew Dillon, Ph.D. The Gnostic Renaissance: The Nag Hammadi Library in American Religion and Culture”. (2016) (Thesis Co-Director)

     Erik Davis, Ph.D. "High Weirdness: Visionary Experience in the Seventies Counterculture". (2016) (Thesis Director)

     Sravana Varma, Ph.D. “In the Tea Light of Tantra: The Rising of Kundalini in the Bodies of Women in Contemporary Assam and Bengal”. (2016) (Thesis Director)

    Awards, Prizes, & Fellowships
     DesignerObserver Award for Mutants and Mystics, DesignerObserver (2012)

     Prose Award for Mutants and Mystics, The American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (2012)

     Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award for Authors of the Impossible (2010), Choice (2010)

     Pulitzer Prize submission to nominate ESALEN by the University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press (summer 2007)

     American Society for the Study of Religion election, ASSR (spring 2007)

     American Council of Learned Societies Contemplative Practice Fellowship, ACLS (summer 2006)