Cleo Kearns

Cleo Kearns
  • New York University
  • Adjunct Professor
  • Residential Fellow (2013-2014)
  • "The Nature of Sacrifice: Ritual, Mind and Belief"

Cleo McNelly Kearns is an independent scholar in the fields of modern literature, philosophy of religion, and comparative theology and serves as an adjunct faculty member in the departments of English and Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MARC) at New York University. She has published extensively on issues in continental philosophy, feminist theory and anthropology and has recently completed a major study of the figure of the Virgin Mary and her relationship to Christian orthodoxy. Her work now focuses on the comparative study of sacrificial ritual, drawing on cognitive science and evolutionary biology as well as on her background in religious studies.

She is the author of T. S. Eliot and Indic Traditions: A Study in Poetry and Belief (1987) and The Virgin Mary, Monotheism and Sacrifice (2008). She serves on the editorial board of the journal Literature and Theology, and she has contributed reviews and essays to a range of publications from History of Religions to the Oxford Handbook on Literature and Theology.  Her recent articles include “The Future of Religion and Literature in the Academy” for Religion and Literature (2010) and “The Dharmic Challenge to Salvation History” for the Journal of Hindu Studies (2012).

Professor Kearns has held fellowships from the Princeton Center for the Study of Religion and the Center of Theological Inquiry, and she is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society for Existential and Phenomenological Philosophy, the Dante Society of America, the Society of Biblical Theologians, and the American Theological Society.  She has served on a number of committees for the American Academy of Religion and as co-chair of its Theology and Continental Philosophy group. She has taught at Rutgers University and Princeton Theological Seminary.