Assistant Professor, Theology and Religious Studies
Program Director, Contemplative Studies
Louis Komjathy, PhD, is a teacher-scholar of Daoism, Chinese religions, and comparative religious studies with an emphasis on contemplative practice and mystical experience. He also holds the position of research associate in the Institute of Religion, Science and Social Studies of Shandong University (PRC), wherein he conducts research on the history of Daoism in Shandong. In addition to his departmental and university commitments, he is founding co-director of the Center for Daoist Studies, founding co-chair of the Daoist Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion, and founding co-chair of the Contemplative Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion.
Ph.D., Boston University, Religious Studies, emphasis on Daoism
B.A. magna cum laude, University of California, San Diego; Literature and Philosophy
1993 Burckhardt Prize for Literature, University of California, San Diego
2005 Angela and James Rallis Memorial Award for outstanding research promise in the Humanities, Boston University
Scholarly and Creative Work
Professor Komjathy has published extensively on Daoism, both in traditional Chinese contexts and in a contemporary global context. He has written seminal articles on Daoism in America as well as one of the definitive studies of early Quanzhen (Complete Perfection) Daoism. He is increasingly focusing on larger comparative, cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary projects. In addition to various peer-reviewed academic articles and book chapters, Professor Komjathy has published three books: Title Index to Daoist Collections (Three Pines Press, 2002), Cultivating Perfection: Mysticism and Self-transformation in Early Quanzhen Daoism (Brill, 2007), and Handbooks for Daoist Practice (Yuen Yuen Institute, 2008). He has recently completed a manuscript of primary Quanzhen Daoist texts in translation, which is tentatively entitled The Way of Complete Perfection: A Quanzhen Daoist Anthology. His current research projects focus on Daoist meditation and Daoist commentary literature as well as contemplative practice from a comparative perspective. In addition to using historical contextualization, textual study and translation as research methodologies, Professor Komjathy has conducted archaeological fieldwork on Shandong Daoism and ethnographic work on contemporary Daoist monasticism, which included living as a participant-observer in a variety of Quanzhen monasteries. This research was supported by a Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Grant and a visiting professorship at Shandong University.
Professor Komjathy teaches survey courses on world religions and upper-division courses on Daoism, Chinese religions, comparative mysticism, and contemplative traditions. He is particularly interested in the complex interplay among worldviews, practices and experience. Komjathy employs a variety of pedagogical approaches in his classes, including interactive lecturing, peer-directed learning, small group discussion, guest speakers and site visits. He aims to help students understand the context-specific dimensions of religious traditions and larger issues derived from comparative religious studies, including the contemporary context of globalization, multiculturalism, and religious pluralism. He has refined his teaching skills through participation in the Wild Hope Project at Pacific Lutheran University and the Pre-tenure Religion Faculty Workshop at the Wabash Center.