Eric Steinschneider

Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Religion
Phone: 617-519-5443
Office: Job Hall 303


I am trained as a historian of religion, with a particular interest in the intellectual history of South Asian religious traditions, especially those we would now call “Hindu”.  That means I read lots of texts written in Tamil and Sanskrit and think about what they can tell us about how these traditions have evolved over the past half millennium or so. Much of my research explores developments in the Śaiva traditions of southern India, which focus on the worship of the deity Śiva. A soon-to-be-published article looks at the transformation of vegetarianism in this region during the seventeenth century. Another recent interest of mine involve the religious reading practices of Hindu women in colonial and contemporary southeast India.

My teaching interests vary widely. Things I enjoy talking about with my students about include contemporary religious controversies, religious themes in recent fiction, the nature of nature, Hindu worlds, how to find the Buddha and what to do when you meet him, death and…afterwards. Come join the conversation!

I think that, before they graduate, every student should take at least one course in Religious Studies, preferably eleven. Studying religion academically is good for (at least) three things. First, it trains you how to think, read, and write critically and persuasively, skills that will one day make you wealthy and powerful ;). Second, it empowers you to become a more thoughtful contributor to society, especially by cultivating your ability to understand the hearts and minds of people other than yourself or your tribe. Finally, it teaches you about yourself, even if you don’t identify as religious. Immersing yourself in the unfamiliar is the best way to develop a more nuanced perspective on the things you take for granted as ‘true’.

I am delighted that, starting this fall (2021), students will be able to major in Religious Studies at IC.