Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Religion, Hinduism, India, Psychoanalysis, Hare Krishna Movement, Asian history, Cults
Jason received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania where he pursued his research in the departments of Religious Studies and South Asia Regional Studies. Prior to his arrival at DePauw University, Jason taught at Washington and Lee University and the University of Pennsylvania. He also traveled and lived in India for years while conducting his research.
Jason is a South Asianist who specializes in the study of Modern Hinduism. He is a historian of religions who has conducted fieldwork and archival research in Kolkata, West Bengal and its environs. He is the recipient of several prestigious grants for study and research in India from the American Institute of Indian Studies and the University of Pennsylvania. His areas of research interest involve postcolonial Hinduism, Hindu responses to the challenges of colonialism and modernity, Gaudiya Vaisnavism, and nineteenth-century Bengali history. His most recent publications include: “Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Colonialism and the Philosophia Perennis,” Journal of Vaishnava Studies (Spring 2008); “Bhaktivinoda Thakura and the Mondernization of Gaudiya Vaisnavism,” in Steven J. Rosen, ed. Gaudiya Vaishnavism & Iskcon: An Anthology of Scholarly Perspectives (2008); and “Vaisnava Hermeneutics and Vedic Authority in the Sri Krsna Samhita,” Journal of Vaishnava Studies (2006).
At DePauw Jason has worked steadily to increase the visibility of Asian Studies on campus by attracting numerous students to the program with a variety of new course offerings and arranging for well-known scholars in the fields of Asian and South Asian Studies to give talks each semester. The topics have ranged from the cultural cachet of “Hello Kitty” merchandise in contemporary Japan to portrayals of Krishna in Indian calendar art as the child-like Butter Thief. Jason has also expanded DePauw’s off-campus course offerings: he directed a number of Winter Term Studies projects for students traveling to India. Jason’s teaching interests are broad and include Hinduism, Modern Hinduism, Religions of India, South Asian History, Introduction to the Religions of Asia and Asian Religions in America. In addition to his travel and research in South Asia, he has traveled to Japan on multiple occasions; most recently, Jason went on a faculty development trip to Kyoto sponsored by the GLCA and DePauw University.
In addition to his research and pedagogy in the areas of South Asian history and culture, Jason has interests in methodological issues in the academic study of religion and the emerging field of religion and film. He uses a multi-medial, interdisciplinary approach to the study of religion in his courses, asking students to make intellectually fruitful connections between verbal and visual representations of religion. In the journal Teaching Theology and Religion, Jason has published an article arguing for the uses of film in the religious studies classroom. He argues that film can inspire students to think productively about difficult and– especially–esoteric or abstract theoretical concepts.