Faculty and Staff Directory
Department of Religious Studies
Ph.D. Harvard University, 2013
Comparative religion; Asian religions and cultures
Elon Goldstein is a scholar of religion who specializes in the study of Buddhist traditions throughout Asia and the contemporary world. His training has especially emphasized the languages, cultures, and religions of South Asia along with adjacent areas starting from the origins of Buddhism circa 500 BCE until 1500 CE after Buddhism's relative decline throughout much of the region. In his research, Elon examines South Asian Buddhism in light of broader, nonsectarian cultural concerns such as ethical and literary debates. He is interested in the changing theories, transformative practices, and literary strategies featured in various classes of Buddhist scriptures and narratives. He also reconsiders aspects of Buddhism in their relation to Hindu and Jain traditions. In addition to his historical research, Elon maintains a keen interest in contemporary Buddhist traditions both in Asia and in the Western hemisphere, attending to Buddhists' roles vis-a-vis modernity as well as to Buddhists' adaptations in new cultural settings, especially in America.
Goldstein's dissertation utilizes an influential, seventh-century Sanskrit drama (Harsha's Nāgānanda) about an ideal Buddhist figure to investigate how creative writers and literary analysts explored religious ethics using the aesthetic resources of South Asian literary culture. Complicating standard notions about Buddhism, his study delineates the ways in which intellectuals created, interpreted, and appropriated Buddhist themes from a classic text for highly diverse ends over a span of more than eight centuries.
Elon looks forward to leading students on Maymester trips to Buddhist and other religious sites throughout Asia.
Elon teaches the following courses:
- Introduction to Religious Studies
- Buddhist Meditation in Theory and Practice
- Buddhist Stories, Poetry, and Film
- Introduction to Buddhism
- Ethics and the Good Life in Asian Religions
- Sex, Power, Bliss, in South Asian Religions
- East Asian Religions
- Morality, Ethics, and Religion
- Psychology of Religion
- Religion and Literature
- Religion and Science