Tomoko Masuzawa

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Tomoko Masuzawa

Professor, Comparative Literature/History

435 S. State St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1003

Office Location(s): 2634 Haven Hall
Phone: 734.615.3602
View Curriculum Vitae

  • Affiliation(s)
    • Center for European Studies
    • Center for Japanese Studies
    • Department of Comparative Literature
    • Department of History
  • Fields of Study
    • Areas of research: Modern European intellectual history (19th century)
    • discourses on religion
    • history of human sciences
    • psychoanalysis Languages: Japanese (full native literacy)
    • Research languages: German, French
  • About

    Areas of research: Modern European intellectual history (19th century); discourses on religion; history of human sciences; psychoanalysis
    Languages: Japanese (full native literacy); Research languages: German, French

    Tomoko Masuzawa received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1985 and has been teaching at the University of Michigan since 1999.  She is the author of In Search of Dreamtime: Quest for the Origin of Religion (Chicago, 1993) and The Invention of World Religions: or How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism (Chicago, 2005).  Additional publications include articles on Walter Benjamin (MLN, 1985), Emile Durkheim (representations, 1988), Kafka and Dürrenmatt (Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 1992), “Culture” (1998), James Hilton and Utopia (Positions, 1999), Discourse on Fetishism (Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2000), F. Max Müller (2007), and Jonathan Z. Smith (2007). She has translated and edited a volume of seven major essays authored by leading contemporary Japanese scholars on the history of the discourse on religion (forthcoming). She is the recent recipient of the following fellowships: Getty Research Institute Visiting Scholar (2008), Institute for Advanced Study (School of Social Science, 2010-2011), and Guggenheim (2010). She has been active in the North American Association for the Study of Religion (president, 2006-2009), American Academy of Religion (currently co-chair of the Cultural History of the Study of Religion Group), Society of Biblical Literature, and International Association for the History of Religions.  Ongoing projects include: a monograph on the heresy trial of W. Robertson Smith in the context of the history of biblical studies in the 19th century; monograph on the advent of academic secularity and the transformation of modern universities. Teaching interests in Comparative Literature include undergraduate courses on “Freud and Literature” and “Victorian Science, Religion, and Literature” and graduate seminars on “Writing History, Writing Criticism,” “Freud and the Origins of Poststructuralism,” “Comparison and Hegemony,” and “Origins of ‘Secular Humanism’.”

    Select Publications:

    • “The University and the Advent of the Academic Secular: the State’s Management of Public Instruction,” in Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Mateo Taussig-Rubbo, & Robert Yelle, eds., Law after Secularism (Stanford University Press, 2011)
    • “An American Secular: Religion and the University Reform before the Postsecular Age,” in Philip Gorski, et al., eds., The Postsecular in Question (NYU Press, 2011)
    • “Reader as Producer: J. Z. Smith on Exegesis, Ingenuity, Elaboration.” In Willi Braun & Russell McCutcheon eds., Introducing Religion: Essays in Honor of Jonathan Z. Smith, 311-24. London, UK: Equinox Press, 2007.
    • “Theory without Method: Situating a Discourse Analysis on Religion.” In Gerrie ter Haar & Yoshio Tsuruoka, eds., Religion and Society: An Agenda for the 21st Century (Proceedings of the 19th World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions), 173-204. Leiden, NL: Brill, 2007.
    • The Invention of World Religions: Or, How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005.
    • “Our Master’s Voice: Friedrich Max Müller after a Hundred Years of Solitude.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 15: 4 (2003), 305-328.
    • “Troubles with Materiality: the Ghost of Fetishism in the Nineteenth Century.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 42: 2 (April 2000), 242-267.
    • “From Empire to Utopia: Effacement of Colonial Markings in Lost Horizon” Positions: East Asia Culture Critique 7: 2 (Fall 1999), 541-572.
    • “Culture,” in Mark C. Taylor, ed., Critical Terms for Religious Studies, 70-93. University of Chicago Press, 1998. 70-93.
    • In Search of Dreamtime: The Quest for the Origin of Religion.Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993.


  • Education
    • PhD, Religious Studies, University of California (Santa Barbara), 1985
    • MA, Religous Studies, Yale University, 1979
    • BA, International Christian University, 1975
  • Selected Publications:
  • Books
  • Articles