Courses in development

Three people sleep on a cluttered mattress.

Coming Summer, 2021!

The Historian’s Craft:
Sex and Love in Asian Religions

examines the religious history of everyday life in Southeast and South Asia from the standpoints of desire, love, and intimacy. While almost all of the world’s religious and spiritual systems purport to address the myriad issues of human embodiment—longing, suffering, intimate desire, and above all these, love—so often in their institutionalized and politicized forms, they have at best ignored, and at worst willfully neglected, the voices and experiences of women and gender nonconforming people. 

What happens when we look at religious life beyond its canonical scriptures and its ordained hierarchies? What local and noninstitutional histories of everyday life remain? In what ways might historical studies of “gender,” “sexuality” and “religion” be profitably intertwined? And in doing so, what implications might this have on our methods and work as historians? 

This course brings together three case studies which pair primary and secondary sources rooted in queer love and sexuality in (mainly) Southeast and South Asia as they are inflected by religious life or forms of identification. Each week, conversations about historical methods and skills center the preceding questions as we study gender nonconforming Buddhist monastics, sex workers, migrant poets, Hindu goddesses, and queer cinema together with contextualizing voices in religious and gender history.  [Click for Syllabus]

“Slow film” and diasporic love collide in “I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone,” a 2006 film by Malay-Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang.


Sepia photograph of two Sinhalese Buddhist monks

Religion and Politics in the Indian Ocean:
Buddhism (and Islam)

surveys the development, interaction, and spread of Buddhist and Muslim people, ideas, practices, and political formations in the Indian Ocean region. The course is intended for History, Religious Studies, and Asian Studies majors, and can be adapted for online, hybrid, and writing–intensive environments and learning outcomes. Our voyage begins with ordination networks of seafaring nuns in the fifth century, drops in on wandering Southeast Asian and Silk Road tariqas and traders, explores two waves of European trading company mediation of religious life in the region, and ends with international women’s networks and gendered postcolonial Buddhist nationalism in early twentieth century Asia. 

In order to assess how emerging paradigms in “global” or “connected” history can help us take stock of religion as a major feature in the history of the region, our approach will be to pair primary and secondary source readings from nuns, political elites, traders, missionaries, ordinary people, and religious texts alongside developing literature on Indian Ocean history, global and connected history, and with insights from religious studies and cultural anthropology. Throughout, the course emphasizes cultivating the skills to “see through the eyes” of Buddhist and Muslim religious specialists, monarchs, and especially the everyday people whose writings, artwork, stories, meditations, poems, and dreams cut across these richly textured, trans–historical flows we have come to call “Buddhism” and “Islam.”

The connected ideas, people, moments, and images we explore will allow us to engage Buddhism and Islam as both an historical reality alongside our own developing perspectives about these rich and diverse cultural flows. As a broad survey, this course is chiefly geared toward exploring the many horizons of the land-and-seascapes of Buddhism and Islam as they have existed, changed, and been imagined and invoked over many centuries.

Studioportret van twee Buddhistische Priesters met Waaiers in de hand in Ceylon. W.L.H. Skeen & Co., 1870–1904, Rijksmuseum (RP-F-F80078)


As a Graduate & Teaching Assistant

“Best Should Teach” Silver Award, CU–Boulder Graduate School

Lead Graduate Teacher for Religious Studies, CU–Boulder

University of Wisconsin–Madison

2020-21 AYTA CoordinatorHistory Writing Lab
Fall 2019History 201Travel Writing as Historical SourcePernille Ipsen
Spring 2019Hist/Rel. Stud. 308Introduction to BuddhismAnne Hansen
Fall 2018Hist/Rel. Stud. 267Asian Religions in Global PerspectiveAnne Hansen
Fall 2017Rel. Stud. 102Religion in Sickness and HealthCorrie Norman

University of Colorado Boulder

Fall 2015RLST 2700American Indian Religious TraditionsGreg Johnson
Spring 2015RLST 2620East Asian Religious TraditionsRodney Taylor
Fall 2014RLST 2700American Indian Religious TraditionsGreg Johnson
Spring 2014RLST 1850Ritual and MediaHolly Gayley
Fall 2013RLST 3300Foundations of BuddhismHolly Gayley