Pamela Winfield

Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Spence Pavilion-Religion/Phil. 212
2340 Campus Box
Elon, NC 27244 (336) 278-5128


  • Temple University Japan, Research Fellow, Institute for the Study of Contemporary Culture (2007)
  • Temple University, Department of Religion (MA 2001, Ph.D. 2003)
  • International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto. Graduate University of Advanced Study (Visiting Researcher 2001-2002). 
  • Georgetown University School Languages and Linguistics (B.S.L.A. cum laude 1989)

Courses Taught

  • 100-level: Religion in a Global Context.
  • 200-level: Buddhist Traditions, Religion and Film (online); The Silk Road: Religion, Art and Exchange in the Age of Global Empires (Honors).
  • 300-level: Sites and Rites: Sacred Space and Ritual in World Religions; Sages and Samurai: Religion in the Japanese Experience; Chinese "Religions" from Confucius to Mao; Religion and Art of Asia (CORCapstone).
  • 400-level: Comparative Mysticism, Senior Seminar, Undergraduate Research

Leadership Positions

  • Founding Co-chair, Steering Committee Member.  Sacred Space in Asia Group, American Academy of Religion (AAR)
  • Co-chair. Religions of Asia Section, American Academy of Religion Southeast Region / Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (AAR/SECSOR)
  • Juror.  Religion and the Arts Award Jury,  American Academy of Religion (AAR)
  • Steering Committee Member, Space, Place and Religion Group (AAR)
  • Steering Committee Member, Arts, Literature and Religious Group (AAR)
  • Vice President, Board of Directors. Association of Religion and Intellectual Life (ARIL)
  • Editorial Board member. CrossCurrents Journal


  • Religion and visual culture, especially esoteric and Zen Buddhist art and doctrine. Buddhism, East Asian religions, new religious movements, religion and healing, religion and politics, sacred space, comparative mysticism (Asian-European traditions)

Current Projects

"Embodying Soto Zen:  Institutional Identity and Ideal Body-Image at Eiheiji, Japan" in Dogen and Soto Zen:  New Perspectives (New York and London:  Oxford University Press).  Forthcoming.

Grants Awarded

EXTERNAL GRANTS (since 2008):  Association of Asian Studies, NorthEast Asia Council (AAS/ NEAC) Short-term research travel grant to Japan.  Association of Asian Studies, Publication Subvention for First Time Authors.

INTERNAL GRANTS (since 2008):  Elon University Faculty Research and Development Summer Stipend and Travel Grant, Publication Assistance, Research Support.



Selected Publications

  • Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism:  Kukai and Dogen on the Art of Enlightenment. New York:  Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • “Contributing Editor.  "Religion in Asia Today” special issue. Cross Currents Journal vol. 61, no 3, (September 2011), 286-421.
  • “Esoteric Images of Light and Life at Osaka Kokubunji, Japan.” Southeast Review of Asian Studies, vol.34 (2012), 128-52. 
  • “Religion and Healing in Pre-Modern Japan” in Religion Compass, vol. 6, no.11 (2012), 467-479.
  • “Coronation at Koyasan: How One Woman Became King And Learned About Homeland Security and National Health Care in Ancient Japan” in Studying Religions in Practice: Buddhism. Ed. John Harding.  Taylor & Francis / Routledge Press, 2012, pp. 11-24.
  • “The Mandala as Metropolis” in Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia. Charles Orzech, Richard Payne, and Henrik Sørensen eds. Handbook of Oriental Studies (Handbuch der Orientalistik section 4-China, vol. 24).  Leiden, Boston:  Brill Publishers, 2011, pp. 719-743.
  • “State of the Fields:  Recent Contributions to Japanese Art History and Religious Studies” Religious Studies Review vol. 36 no. 3 (September 2010) pp. 199-205. 
  • “Kyoto Pilgrimage Past and Present” in Cross-Currents vol.  59, no. 3 (September 2009) pp. 349-357.  Also published online
  • “The Diaspora of Heavenly Hubris:  Scattering Spiritual Pride at Indra’s Palace and the Tower of Babel.”  The Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion, vol. 12, October, 2007, pp. 1-28. 
  • “Curing With Kaji:  Healing and Esoteric Empowerment in Japan” in Japanese Journal of Religious Studies (JJRS) Vol. 32, no. 1, 2005, pp. 107-130.   


Recent Professional Conference Papers

  • “Embodying Soto Zen:  Institutional Identity and Ideal Body-Image at Eiheiji Temple, Japan” Association of Asia Studies (AAS) Annual Conference, Philadelphia PA (March 30, 2014).  Co-convened panel.                                                                                                                                                                        
  • “What’s Wrong With This Picture?  Zen Iconoclasm Reconsidered” Association of Asian Studies Southeast Regional Conference (SECAAS).  Duke University, Durham, NC (Jan 17-18, 2014).
  • “Image, Text and Vision in Japanese Esoteric Buddhism” American Academy of Religion (AAR) Annual Conference, Buddhism Section, Baltimore, MD (Nov 26, 2013).  Co-convened panel.

  • “Zen Matters: Materiality and Mind in Thirteenth-Century Zen Transmission Certificates” American Academy of Religion (AAR) Annual Conference, Japanese Religions Group, Baltimore, MD (Nov 25, 2013).

  • “Visual Mimesis, Textual Nemesis: Dogen’s Poetic Portrait Inscriptions” Association of Asian Studies (AAS) Annual Conference, San Diego, CA (March 23, 2013). Co-convened panel.

  • “Reflections on the Word-Art of Zen Master Dogen” American Academy of Religion Southeast Regional Conference (AAR) / Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR), Religions of Asia Section, Atlanta, GA (March 3, 2012).  Convened panel.

  • “Architectural, Visual and Rhetorical Renovations in Shinnyo-en” American Academy of    Religion (AAR) Annual Conference, Japanese Religions / New Religious Movements Groups, San Francisco, CA (Nov 19, 2011).  Convened panel.

  • "New Wine in Old Bottles?  Shinnyo-en and the Question of Categories” Association of Asian Studies (AAS) southeast regional conference, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Jan 15, 2011).  Convened and participated in panel entitled:  'New Trends in Old Religions, Old Trends in New:  Demographics, Doctrines and Death in New Religious Movements of Japan.
  • "Ito Shinjo's Path of Oneness:  The Life and Legacy of an Ambiguous Ajari”  Association of Asian Studies (AAS) Annual Conference, Philadelphia, PA (March 25, 2010).  Participated in panel entitled: 'Telling Lives: The Role of the Individual in Modern Japanese Religions,” sponsored by the Society for the Study of Japanese Religions (SSJR).
  • "Religion and the State in Japan:  The Case of Shinnyo-en” American Academy of Religion (AAR) Southeast Regional Conference in collaboration with Southeastern Commission on the Study of Religion (SECSOR), Greensboro, NC (March 14, 2008).  Participated in panel entitled: 'The State and Religions in Asia.” 
  • "Ito Shinjo and the Formulation of a New Esoteric Iconography” Association of Asian Studies (AAS) Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA (April 6, 2007).  Convened and participated in interdisciplinary panel entitled: 'Invoking the Founder in Japanese Esoteric Art and Ritual.”

Service Activities

Committee Work

  • University Curriculum Committee
  • GST Council (Chair, 2011-2012)
  • Asian Studies Program (Coordinator)
  • International Studies Advisory Board
  • Non-Violence Studies Advisory Board (2010-2012)
  • Reassign Time Task Force (2010)
  • AAC&U “GenEd for a Global Century” application team (2010)
  • Innovations in Instruction Conference Planning Committee (2009)
  • Departmental Secretary, Visual Culture Group

Faculty Advising

  • Religious Studies majors
  • Asian Studies minors
  • International Studies majors / Asia regional concentrations


Association of Asian Studies (AAS) - Publication Subvention for first-time authors

Meredith College - Harry and Marion Eberly Faculty Development Award (2006-2007)  (highest award for scholarship)