B.A., Carleton College; M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., Columbia University
T. James KoderaProfessor of Religion
An educator and a scholar in the comparative and historical study of religion with a focus on Asia, as the word "Asia" is understood historically and broadly to include West Asia, South Asia and East Asia.
I am committed to the academic study of religion from the historical and comparative perspective, with a focus on Asia, broadly including both East Asia and South Asia. More specifically, I offer courses on Buddhism from its origin in India through its development in Tibet, China, Korea, Japan and the West. I am also interested in the inner relationship between a contemplative life and social and political responsibility, involving a variety of religious and cultural traditions.
At Wellesley, I helped develop Japanese Studies as part of East Asian Studies Program and Asian American Studies as part of American Studies.
Earlier research focused on individuals and issues in East Asian Buddhism, especially in the Ch'an/Zen tradition. I have also written on the place and the role of Christianity in East Asia, including the Jesuits in the 16th century and Uchimura Kanzo. More recently, my research has focused on the plight of "Untouchables" in India (Dalits) and Japan (Burakumin). I am in an early stage of research on Nagasaki from Francis Xavier, who arrived in Nagasaki in 1549, and Takashi Nagai, affected by radiation after the atomic bomb and yet turned Nagasaki into the "City of Prayer" as it remains today, in contrast to Hiroshima.
Teaching (all courses are Religion courses, unless otherwise noted)
- Introduction to Asian Religions
- Asian American Experience (American Studies)
Fist Year Seminars:
- Untouchables of India and their Liberators
- Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Yasukuni Shinto Shrine
- Buddhist Thought and Practice
- Contemplation and Action
- Chinese Thought and Religion
- Japanese Religion and Culture
- Seminar on Zen Buddhism
- Seminar on Tibetan Buddhism
- Issues in Comparative Religion
- Interning the 'Enemy Race': Japanese Americans in WW II (American Studies)
I am the first Asian American ordained to the priesthood, in 1985, in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts since its inception in 1784. On a part-time basis, I have served in parishes in Brookline, Southborough and Sudbury, all in MA, until 2000, when I was called to serve as Priest-in-Charge and then as Rector at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Hudson, MA. Meanwhile, I have served in a number of regional and national committees of the Episcopal Church, including the presidency of the Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry Council.