Dr. Nancy Martin
Director, Albert Schweitzer Institute
- University of Puget Sound, Bachelor of Arts
University of Chicago, Master of Arts
Graduate Theological Union, Ph.D.
Nancy M. Martin is Professor and Chair of Religious Studies and Director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Chapman University and a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University. Dr. Martin's areas of expertise include devotional Hinduism, comparative religious ethics, and gender and religion. She is a leading authority on the popular Hindu devotional saint Mirabai and is currently making the final revisions to a three-volume comprehensive work on the saint, covering narratives about her and songs attributed to her from the earliest available manuscripts and historical evidence across five centuries to contemporary oral traditions and popular culture in India and the global embrace of this dynamic and powerful sixteenth-century woman.
Dr. Martin’s most recent publications include “The Gendering of Voice in Medieval Hindu Literature,” in The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Philosophy and Gender, edited by Veena Howard (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019) and “Mirabai’s Poetry: The Worlding of a Hindu Woman Saint’s Dynamic Song Tradition,” in The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature, Volume V, edited by Ken Seigneurie and B. Venkat Mani (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2020). Forthcoming articles include “Hinduism for Women: Present and Future Prospects for Socio-Spiritual Emancipation,” “Jesus and Spirituality in Interreligious Perspective” (examining Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist contexts), and “’Reciprocal Illumination’ of Hinduism, Human Rights and the Comparative Study of Religion,” exploring the contributions of Arvind Sharma of McGill University. She is currently working on a book chapter examining the place of Mirabai and bhakti (devotional Hinduism) in the study of gender in global medieval mysticism.
In her teaching and publications, Dr. Martin is also committed to fostering global ethical responsibility through increased interreligious cooperation and a deeper understanding of ethical issues at a global level. Toward this end, she co-founded and co-directed the Global Ethics and Religion Forum from 2001-2009, organizing a series of conferences in Southern California and at Cambridge University on topics from "Ecology and Global Health" to "War and Reconciliation" and co-editing a series of volumes:
- The Meaning of Life in the World Religions
- Ethics in the World Religions
- Love, Sex and Gender in the World Religions
- Human Rights and Responsibilities in the World Religions
Prof. Martin continues to be an active participant in the Parliament of the World’s Religions and has lectured extensively on issues in comparative religious ethics in England, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, India, Thailand, China, and Australia as well as across the United States. In recognition of her expertise on Mirabai, Dr. Martin was invited to lecture on the saint at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C in 2007.
In 2014 Prof. Martin accepted the appointment to be Director of Chapman University’s Albert Schweitzer Institute, recognizing his commitment to establishing a common foundation for ethical, compassionate action through his ethical mysticism of “Reverence for Life.” She regularly teaches a course that invites students to consider the serious ethical challenges of our times, from colonialism, racism, and economic disparity to atomic weapons, war and the environmental crisis, and to explore how they might choose to “invest their humanity.” As Director, Dr. Martin has also taken on the role of the Southern California regional bowl organizer for the national high school ethics bowl which encourages high school students to reason carefully about complex ethical situations, develop and articulate clear positions as a team, listen carefully and engage in respectful dialog with others who may hold differing points of view, and respond thoughtfully to questions from a panel of judges. This national program promotes ethical awareness, critical thinking, civil discourse, civic engagement, and an appreciation for multiple points of view—all essential elements of embodying “Reverence for Life.”
Prof. Martin assumed the position of Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Chapman in 2011. She regularly teaches courses on Buddhism and Reverence for Life as well as the departmental junior/senior seminar for majors and minors and a graduate course on “Religion in the International Arena” for the International Studies MA program in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. As part of her commitment to fostering interreligious literacy and understanding, Dr. Martin also serves on the advisory and planning boards for the California 3Rs Project for Teaching Religion in the Public Schools.
- “Mirabai’s Poetry: The Worlding of a Hindu Woman Saint’s Dynamic Song Tradition.” In The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature. Volume V. Edited by Ken Seigneurie and B. Venkat Mani. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2020.
- “The Gendering of Voice in Medieval Hindu Literature.” In The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Philosophy and Gender. Edited by Veena Howard. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. Pages 97-123.
- “Fluid Boundaries and the Assertion of Difference in Low-caste Religious Identity.” In Lines in the Water: Religious Boundaries in South Asia. Edited by Tazim Kassam and Eliza Kent. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2013. Pages 239-267.
- “Mirabai Comes to America: The Translation and Transformation of a Saint.” Journal of Hindu Studies (Oxford: 2010) 3:12-35.
- “Speaking and Crafting Lives with a Medieval Hindu Devotional Saint: Mirabai Then and Now.” Gender in Global Medieval Mysticism Speaker Series. Ashoka University, Sonepat, India, March 2021
- “Encountering Presence in Twentieth-Century India: Indira Devi Meets Mirabai.” National American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting. San Diego, November 2019
- “’Reverence for Life’ Reconsidered: Ethical Mysticism for Our Time.” Parliament of the World’s Religions. Toronto, November 2018
- “Meeting Mirabai: Finding Our Voices, Reimagining Ourselves with a Hindu Poet-Saint.” Parliament of the World’s Religions. Toronto, November 2018
- “The Dignity of Women in Hinduism.” Parliament of the World’s Religions. Toronto, November 2018
- “Troubling the Boundaries of Past and Present: Indira Devi’s Extraordinary Encounters with Mirabai.” Annual Conference on South Asia. University of Wisconsin, Madison, October 2019
- “Trance Encounters with Mirabai: Experiencing Presence in a Bhakti Milieu.” Regional Bhakti Scholars Network Meeting. Annual Conference on South Asia. University of Wisconsin, Madison, October 2018
- “Will the Real Mirabai Please Stand Up?: Competing Claims to Authenticity and Truth.” Conference for the Study of Religion in India. University of California, Davis, June 2018
Recorded Invited Lecture
“Mirabai speaks….”: The Emergent Voice of a Medieval Saint”
Claremont McKenna College
November 8, 2017
Forthcoming Film Interview
Prelude to “When Will We Meet Again?” Film Series
Kabir Project, Bangalore, India
Featuring material from 2021 Interview with Nancy Martin
By Prashant Parvataneni and Shabnam Virmani
Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications
“Mirabai.” The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Medieval Women’s Writing in the Global Middle Ages. Edited by Michelle M. Sauer, Diane Watt, and Elizabeth Herbert McAvoy. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2022.
“Jesus and Spirituality in Interreligious Perspective.” Religions 13, 12 (2022): 1157.
“Loving God the Mira Way: A Sadhana in Song and Story.” Journal of Vaishnava Studies 30, 2 (2022): 9-17.
“Mirabai’s Poetry: The Worlding of a Hindu Woman Saint’s Dynamic Song Tradition.” The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature. Volume V. Edited by Ken Seigneurie and B. Venkat Mani. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2020.
“The Gendering of Voice in Medieval Hindu Literature.” The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Philosophy and Gender. Edited by Veena Howard. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019. Pages 97-123.
“Mirabai.” Revised. Oxford Bibliographies in “Hinduism.” Ed. Alf Hiltebeitel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017, www.oxfordbibliographies.com.
Brueck, Laura R. Writing Resistance: The Rhetorical Imagination of Hindi Dalit Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014). The Journal of Hindu Studies, 9, 3 (November 2016): 370-372.
“Fluid Boundaries and the Assertion of Difference in Low-caste Religious Identity.” Lines in the Water: Religious Boundaries in South Asia. Edited by Tazim Kassam and Eliza Kent. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2013. Pages 239-267.
“Ethics.” Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Volume IV: History, Philosophy, Knowledge Traditions, Interreligious Contact). Edited by Knut A. Jacobson. Netherlands: Brill, 2012. Pages 677-691 (10,000 word essay).