Sarah Pierce Taylor
Divinity School and the College
Sarah Pierce Taylor’s research focuses on gender and emotion in premodern religion in South India. Her current book project, “Embodying Souls: Emotion, Gender, and Animality in Premodern South Asian Religion,” considers the soteriological tension in Jainism between experiencing and escaping the pleasures of the body. Focusing on a moment of literary change between the Sanskrit and Old Kannada in the medieval Deccan (southwestern India), she argues that literature became a central method for Jain poets to negotiate a worldly reality filled with attachment, embodiment, desire, and pleasure antithetical to the traditional focus on withdrawal and detachment. Her work is broadly informed by theoretical developments in the study of affect, animality, disability and the body, and gender. Her second book project considers the rich tradition of ghost stories (vētāḷa/bētāḷa) in Sanskrit and Old Kannada that challenge gender normativity, various forms of cultural hierarchy, and the boundaries between the living and the dead.
Taylor holds a PhD in South Asia studies from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a master’s degree in South Asian religion from Harvard Divinity School and a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from McGill University. She was previously an assistant professor of South Asian religions at Concordia University.