Jessica Starling

Associate Professor

John R. Howard Hall 233, MSC: 45

Jessie Starling joined the faculty of Lewis & Clark in 2013 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in Japanese Buddhism at the University of California, Berkeley.  She is also affiliated with the Asian Studies and Gender Studies programs at Lewis & Clark, and teaches classes on Asian religions, religion and gender, and ethnographic research methods.


Asian Religions

Academic Credentials

PhD 2012 University of Virginia

M.A. 2006 University of Virginia

BA 2000 Guilford College


Fall 2021 Courses:

RELS 243 Buddhism: Theory/Culture/Practice
MWF 10:20AM - 11:20AM

Introduction to Buddhist thought and practice. Indian origins, contemporary Theravada Buddhism, emergence of the Mahayana, Buddhism and society in Tibet, Zen and Pure Land traditions of East Asia, and the Western reception of Buddhism. Problems in the study of Buddhism.

Prerequisites: None.


Professor Starling’s research is on Buddhism as lived in contemporary Japan, and addresses themes such as Buddhist doctrine, gender, family, ethics, emotion and material practices. 

She is currently completing work on an article about Buddhist laywomen’s groups in modern Japan, which highlights the dynamics of the production of doctrinal materials by male monks in response to the voracious demand of these well-educated and well-organized women’s groups. 

A second research project engages ethnographic fieldwork to understand contemporary Buddhist responses to stigma and discrimination. Starling profiles Buddhist volunteers who have taken up the cause of leprosy (also known as Hansen’s Disease) awareness and advocacy, working both inside and outside of Buddhist institutions to redress the past and current suffering of Hansen’s Disease patients.

Starling’s scholarly articles have appeared in the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Eastern BuddhistReligion Compass, and the Journal of Global BuddhismHer first monograph, Guardians of the Buddha’s Home: Domestic Religion in the Contemporary Jōdo Shinshū (University of Hawai’i Press, 2019), is an ethnography of temple wives in the True Pure Land Buddhist School (Jōdo Shinshū).  She has received numerous fellowships in support of her research, including grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Japan Foundation, and the American Association of University Women.

Professional Experience

Professor Starling is the book reviews editor for the H-Net list serve H-Japan, and co-editor of the Buddhist section of the online journal Religion Compass.  She also serves on the steering committee for the Japanese Religions Unit of the American Academy of Religion.

Location: J.R. Howard Hall