Jeffrey J. Kripal

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Jeffrey J. Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University, where he chaired the Department of Religion for eight years and helped create the GEM Program, a doctoral concentration in the study of Gnosticism, Esotericism, and Mysticism that is the largest program of its kind in the world. He is presently serving as Associate Dean of the Faculty and Graduate Studies in the School of Humanities. He is also the Associate Director of the Center for Theory and Research at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. Jeff is the editor-in-chief of the Macmillan Handbook Series on Religion (ten volumes) and the author of eight monographs, including, most recently, The Superhumanities: Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New Realities (Chicago, 2022). He is presently working on a three-volume study of paranormal currents in the history of science and American metaphysical literature for the University of Chicago Press collectively entitled The Super Story. His full body of work can be seen at

RELI 101 Introduction to the Study of Religion
RELI 231/505 American Metaphysical Religion
RELI 300/504 Religions in America
RELI 488/588 History of Religions School
RELI 393/589 Mutants and Mystics
RELI 428/559 History and Method--20th Century
RELI 458/558 Mysticism

1996 History of Religions Prize for Kali’s Child (American Academy of Religion)

Professional Service:
Chair of the Board, Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California

Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017).

Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011).

Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010); translated into Spanish as Autores de lo Imposible: Lo Paranormal y lo Sagrada, trans. Pawel Odyniec (Barcelona: Kairos, 2012).

Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

The Serpent’s Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom: Eroticism and Reflexivity in the Study of Mysticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).

Kali's Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995; 2nd ed., 1998; 25th anniversary edition set for 2020).

Co-authored Books
Whitley Strieber and Jeffrey J. Kripal, The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained (New York: Penguin/Tarcher, 2016).

Comparing Religions: Coming to Terms, with Ata Anzali, Andrea Jain, and Erin Prophet (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014).

Edited Collections
Editor-in-Chief, Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks on the Study of Religion (2015-2018), ten volumes.

Jeffrey J. Kripal, ed., Super Religion (Macmillan, 2016).

Jeffrey J. Kripal, ed., Religion: Sources, Perspectives, Methods (Macmillan, 2016).

Sudhir Kakar and Jeffrey J. Kripal, eds., Seriously Strange: Thinking Anew about Psychical Experiences (New York: Viking, 2012).

Wouter J. Hanegraaff and Jeffrey J. Kripal, eds., Hidden Intercourse: Essays on Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotericism (New York: Fordham University Press, 2010; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2008).

Jeffrey J. Kripal and Glenn W. Shuck, eds. On the Edge of the Future: Esalen and the Evolution of American Culture (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005).

Rachel Fell McDermott and Jeffrey J. Kripal, eds., Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).

G. William Barnard and Jeffrey J. Kripal, eds., Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism, (New York: Seven Bridges Press/Chatham House, 2002).

T. G. Vaidyanathan and Jeffrey J. Kripal, eds. Vishnu on Freud's Desk: A Reader in Psychoanalysis and Hinduism (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998).

Image credit: Michael Spadafina for MAX Video Productions, Inc., all rights reserved.

Research Areas

Comparative Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, History of Religions in America, Paranormal Currents in the History of Science and Popular Culture


Ph.D. The University of Chicago

M.A. The University of Chicago

B.A. Conception Seminary College


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