Todd Lewis

Todd Lewis

Fellow: Awarded 2011
Field of Study: Religion

Competition: US & Canada

College of the Holy Cross

Beginning with his scholarly training at Columbia University (where he earned his Ph.D. in Religion 1984), Professor Todd Lewis’ research and teaching has been interdisciplinary, linking anthropology, the history of religions, and Indology. His area of special expertise is Buddhist narratives and the role of merchants in Buddhist history. Professor Lewis is also one of the world’s leading authorities on the religions of the mid-montane Himalayan region and the social history of Buddhism.

His continuing research focus for over thirty years has been Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley, particularly the traditions found among the Newars, the indigenous population of Nepal’s capital. He has resided in the Asan Tol neighborhood in the city of Kathmandu for his dissertation research (1979–82), and for postdoctoral fellowships (1987, 1997–98, 2012), supported by Fulbright fellowships. Professor Lewis has been awarded many other fellowships to support his research and writing: he has received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy of Religion, the American Philosophical Society, the Social Science Research Council, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

In addition to several dozen articles published in leading academic journals and invited chapters contributed to edited scholarly volumes, Professor Lewis has published two books on Newar Buddhism. The first was Popular Buddhist Texts from Nepal: Narratives and Rituals of Newar Buddhism (State University of New York Press, 2000). More recent was Sugata Saurabha: A Poem on the Life of the Buddha by Chittadhar Hridaya of Nepal, a landmark in twentieth-century Newar and Asian Buddhist literature. A translation (in collaboration with Subarna Man Tuladhar of Kathmandu) has now appeared in two forms. A dual-language edition was published in the Harvard Oriental Series (67) in 2008, the first in the Newari language to appear in this series; and then an English-only translation edition that was published by Oxford University Press in 2010. In 2011, an international academic jury selected Sugata Saurabha as the finest academic book published during 2010 in the field of Buddhist Studies, and named the co-authors as recipients of the Toshide Numata International Book Prize.

Todd Lewis has taught at the College of the Holy Cross since 1990. In 1996, he was promoted to Associate Professor and in 2003 was promoted to the rank of Professor. He has also been a Research Associate in the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Harvard University since 1999.

Professor Lewis now teaches courses on Buddhism, seminars on the various schools of Buddhism, as well as courses on theories of religion and the modernization of world religions. He has also developed various comparative courses such as “Gardens and World Religions,” “Music and Religion,” “Ancient India and Ancient Greece,” and “Ecology and Religion.”

Professor Lewis has since 2002 directed six summer institutes funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, programs for K-12 teachers or college faculty from across the United States. For his teaching and service to Holy Cross, and for his activities in the local and national educational community, Professor Lewis in 2008 was nominated as “Professor of the Year” in the program sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Professor Lewis is married to Joy Chen Lewis, who joined him on previous Fulbright research sojourns to Nepal in 1987, 1997–98, and 2012. They have two children, Melissa Dorothy and Nathan Todd, and they reside in Holden, Massachusetts.


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