Jamal J. Elias
Walter H. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities
Jamal Elias is a member of the Department of Religious Studies. His research interests and teaching encompass Islamic mystical thought and metaphysics, material and visual culture, Arabic and Persian literature, and popular culture in South Asia and Turkey. He has served as department chair of religious studies, as well as South Asia studies, where he holds a secondary appointment. Elias has lectured and published extensively on history, religion, literature and culture in the medieval and modern Islamic worlds. His two most recent books are Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam and On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan, which won the American Institute of Pakistan Studies Best Senior Book Prize. He also authored two textbooks on Islam, one of which has been translated into five languages.
Elias is a recipient of major grants and awards from organizations including the American Council of Learned Societies, Penn’s Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, and the Council of the American Overseas Research Centers. Last year, as a Guggenheim Memorial Fellow, he pursued a major research project on the history of the Mevlevi Sufi order (sometimes called the Whirling Dervishes) from its inception in the 13th century until the advent of the modern era.
Elias received his undergraduate degree from Stanford, an M.A. from Penn and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale. He has taught at Penn since 2006.