Prof Ann TavesProf Ann Taves


Professor of Religious Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara.

For almost thirty years, Ann Taves has been studying unusual experiences that researchers variously characterize as religious, mystical, anomalous, and/or pathological in order to better understand how and why, in some cases, unusual experiences lead to profound insights and new social movements and, in others, to disability and distress. In Fits, Trances, and Visions (Princeton, 1999), she approached this question historically, looking at the religious and scientific explanations that people offered for such experiences over time. In Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things (Princeton, 2009), she presented a framework for considering experiences that people view as religious alongside other experiences. She integrated the two approaches in her most recent book, Revelatory Events (Princeton, 2016), which compared the emergence of three new spiritual paths (Mormonism, Alcoholics Anonymous, and A Course in Miracles). Her approach is summarized and discussed in Building Blocks of Religion: Critical Applications and Future Prospects, edited by Göran Larsson, Jonas Svensson, and Andreas Nordin (Equinox, 2020).

Selected Recent Publications

Taves, Ann. 2016. Revelatory Events: Three Case Studies of the Emergence of New Spiritual Paths (Princeton).

Taves, Ann. 2012. What Matters: Ethnographies of Value in the (Not So) Secular Age, co-edited with Courtney Bender (Columbia).

Taves, Ann. 2019. Modeling theories and modeling phenomena: A humanist’s initiation. In Human Simulation: Perspectives, Insights, Applications, ed. Saikou Diallo, W. Wildman, F. L. Shults, & A. Tolk. (Springer).

Asprem, Egil and Taves, Ann. 2018. Explanation and the Study of Religion. In Brad Stoddard, ed. Method Today: Beyond Description and Hermeneutics in Religious Studies Scholarship. (London: Equinox).

For more information about Ann, please visit her homepage at UC Santa Barbara.

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University of Otago Religious Studies Programme