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Ellen GoughAssociate Director, Graduate Division of Religion. Associate Professor

 Ellen Gough is a scholar of South Asian religions, especially Jainism. She received her B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her M.A. in the Study of Religion from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and her Ph.D. in Asian Religions from Yale University. Her work focuses on ritual, sacred space, narratives, and material culture. Most of her research takes an ethno-historical approach that combines the study of Gujarati, Hindi, Sanskrit, and Prakrit texts, the study of material culture, and fieldwork.

Her book, Making a Mantra: Tantric Ritual and Renunciation on the Jain Path to Liberation (Chicago University Press, 2021), examines the life of a single Jain mantra, from its inception at the outset of the first millennium, to its use in medieval tantric initiations and meditative exercises, to its popularity as a source of healing today. In 2020, she received a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellowship to undertake nine months of research in Mumbai on Jain festivals for her book project entitled What Makes a Jain not a Hindu? Religious Identity and the Indian Festival Calendar.

She is also working on a project on Jain astrology. Some of her research can be found here.

Gough is a member of the American Academy of Religion, where she sits on the steering committees for the Jainism and Tantric Studies units.

Along with research, she loves teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and in 2016, she won Emory's Crystal Apple Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching. With undergraduate students, she has curated two different exhibits, Tell the Whole Story from Beginning to End: The Ramayana in Indian Painting (2018), and The Avatars of Vishnu (2021), at Emory's Michael C. Carlos Museum. Courses taught:

Undergraduate Courses

  • Religion in the News
  • Jainism: Religion of Nonviolence
  • Is Yoga Religious?
  • Violence, Nonviolence, and Religion: From India to Atlanta
  • The Religious Art of South Asia

Graduate Courses

  • Religion and Material Culture
  • Tantric Traditions
  • The Purāṇas
  • Hinduism and the Senses


  • PhD, Yale University, 2015
  • MA, SOAS, University of London, 2008
  • BA, Univesity of Wisconsin - Madison, 2006

Research and Teaching

  • South Asian religions
  • Jainism
  • Tantra
  • Indian art and architecture


  • Making a Mantra: Tantric Ritual and Renunciation on the Jain Path to Liberation (Class 200: New Studies in Religion)