Liz Wilson

Areas of expertise

  • Religions of South Asia
  • Buddhism
  • Religion and gender
  • Marriage and same-sex unions

Liz WilsonProfessor and Chief Departmental Advisor
157 Upham Hall
(513) 529-4307

Vision for students: "In my classes, students discover different ways of thinking about familiar subject matters, as well as gain insight into cultural realms that may be unfamiliar. The critical thinking skills that students gain in my classes equip them to argue persuasively and select the best possible evidence for their views."


B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies in Religion (Davidson College, 1983)
M.A., Religion (University of Chicago, 1987)
Ph.D., History of Religions (University of Chicago, 1992)

Seminar on Religion in the Public Sphere, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute (University of Virginia, 2011)

International experience: Dr. Wilson has done extensive research in India and Nepal. For J-term 2015, she took 11 students to India. She studied in Malaysia and Singapore on a U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad program in 2005. In 2006, she learned about cultures of the Silk Road on a Fulbright-Hays Silk Road Seminar in Eurasia.


REL 101 - Introduction to Religion
REL 201 - Methods for the Study of Religion
REL 203 - Global Religions of India
REL 223 - Introduction to Buddhism
REL/WGS 313 - Marriage Across Cultures
REL/WGS 333 - Religion, Dress, and Status

Dr. Wilson holds a Miami University Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate Instruction and Mentoring (2009). Her students use case studies from South Asian religions to develop critical thinking and other skills desired by employers. Students can expect to engage each other in debates and a variety of other assignments designed to help students master verbal and written communication skills.

Sample assignment: In REL 201, students apply theories of religion to popular cultural productions such as TV shows, films, and sporting events. 


Dr. Wilson has been an award-winning scholar from early in her career, receiving the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion's First Annual Young Scholars Award for 1995-96. In her first book, Charming Cadavers: Horrific Figurations of the Feminine in Indian Buddhist Hagiographic Literature (University of Chicago Press, 1996), she studied the role that women's bodies played in Buddhism—the diseased, dying, or dead bodies of women—as objects of meditation for male monks.

Dr. Wilson's interest in religious practices related to death is reflected also in her first edited volume, The Living and the Dead: Social Dimensions of Death in South Asian Religion (SUNY Press, 2003). More recently, she edited Family in Buddhism: Buddhist Vows and Family Ties (SUNY Press, 2013).

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Beyond the department

Dr. Wilson collaborated with colleagues across Miami University in 2013-14, when she won an Altman Program Fellowship in the Miami University Humanities Center. Focused on the themes of "Globalization and Belonging," the program Dr. Wilson co-created brought scholars from various institutions, representing a range of academic disciplines, to work with faculty and students at Miami.

Dr. Wilson is interim director of the Asian/Asian American Studies program and is affiliated with the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Miami University. Her course on "Marriage Across Cultures" (REL 313) satisfies the Diversity Perspectives Requirement for students in the Farmer School of Business.

Dr. Wilson has served on the Buddhism section steering committee of the American Academy of Religion.