I am a religious studies scholar and PhD candidate at Florida State University. My research is interdisciplinary, covering a wide variety of subject areas including American religious history, religion and science, body and embodiment, Buddhism in the West, new and esoteric religious movements, and digital humanities and pedagogy.
Currently I am completing my dissertation “Occult Bodies: The Corporal Construction of the Theosophical Society, 1895-1935,” in which I argue that the leadership of the Theosophical Society appropriated the rhetoric of science, including claims of objectivity and demonstrability, while rejecting its epistemology. Employing these scientific discourses, they constructed a habitus in which Theosophists came to understand and experience their bodies as existing on numerous dimensions and capable of miraculous abilities. As the human body is the central metaphor by which humans encounter the world, understanding how religious traditions imagine, construct, care for, discipline, and represent the body in its teachings opens a means to examine how individuals both understand and live their traditions. My research joins lived religion with intellectual history to better examine the ways in which religious discourse creates bodily experience.
My larger research agenda approaches religion, the body, science, race, and gender, among others, as theoretical categories for analysis which are fluid and polyvalent. As a result, I study religion as a means through which people employ beliefs and practices to orient themselves within the world, and respond to its changing contexts. This approach allows me to emphasize religion’s contingent and dynamic nature, focusing on its construction by particular groups within specific times and places. For instance, my publications include an essay on Theosophical emotional regulation published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion (JAAR), a chapter on contemporary esoteric religious practice in which participants identify bodily with their avatars in three-dimensional virtual worlds, and a biographical book chapter on the first Englishman to convert to Buddhism and lead a Buddhist mission to London in 1908. In each of these examples, focusing on the contingency of religion in each local and cultural context supplies a rich data set to interpret.
In addition to research, I have been developing and teaching courses since 2010. At Florida State University, I have had the opportunity to teach a variety of courses in both in-person and online formats. Courses that I have developed and taught at Florida State include Religion in the United States, New Religious Movements, and Introduction to World Religions, for both in-person and online formats. In addition to Florida State, I have also developed and taught Introduction to World Religions, and Humanities I (Pre-History to the Italian Renaissance), at Tallahassee Community College. Similarly, I have developed and teach online courses at Utah State University, which include Introduction to Religious Studies, Introduction to Buddhism, and my most recent course, Religion and Science. In total I have cumulatively taught thirty-eight in-person and online undergraduate courses to approximately 1,500 students.
While I have been completing my dissertation, I have been working at Florida State’s Office of Distance Learning (ODL). As an instructional design faculty member, my responsibilities include assisting faculty to develop or improve online courses and teach workshops about different aspects of online teaching, including particular technologies. Since joining the ODL, I have led an initiative to increase awareness and adoption of universal design principles to make all course material accessible to all students regardless of ability. Finally, while at the ODL, I have been researching how students engage and use instructional videos, examining the relationship between viewing patterns and duration.
On this website you will find more details about my academic work, including my current research and the courses I have developed and taught, my teaching philosophy, and a summary of my student evaluations and teaching observations. My latest CV is available with many links to the referenced works and presentations. The site also includes a summary of the impact of my peer reviewed publications, and links to the various profiles and accounts on a variety of websites, including social media, and because I strive to live a balanced life, a little about my hobbies outside academia. I welcome any thoughts or comments which you can send me through my contact page.