Religion in

The Department regrets to announce the death of Prof. Tim Murphy on March 15, 2013. Please click here for more information.

Tim Murphy
Associate Professor

Theories of Religion and of Interpretation, 19th & 20th Century Continental Religious Thought, the Semiotics of Comparative Systems of
Religious Meaning, and Postcolonial Readings of the History of Religious Studies

office phone: (205) 348-8513
office: Manly 209

As of the Fall of 2008,
Dr. Murphy was tenured and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor

Books By Dr. Murphy

Tim Murphy joined the Department in August of 2002, after holding a prestigious Mellon Post Doctoral Fellowship at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.  He is a graduate of the History of Consciousness Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he worked with Hayden White, James Clifford, the late Gary Lease, David Hoy, Donna Harraway, Peter Euben, and the late, great Norman O. Brown.

Murphy's work attempts to combine current theoretical perspectives with a rereading of the history of the discipline through the lens of both post-structuralism and postcolonialism, and drawing upon data from throughout the world--not just a single tradition or type of tradition--to produce a constructive (not merely critical) and comprehensive theory of religion.  (See "What is a Semiotic Theory of Religion" [PDF] below.)

In addition to those institutions mentioned above, Dr. Murphy has taught at a total of five universities, including, The University of Kansas and California State University at San José.

Besides his academic interests, Tim likes architecture; he enjoys both listening to and playing the Blues, softball, great ribs, motorcycles, socializing with friends, and viewing contemporary cinema.

Learn about an October 2005 REL Student Association event at which Prof. Murphy lectured on "'Voodoo' and Zombies: The Real Story."

Learn about Prof. Murphy's recent Religion in Culture lunchtime discussion.


Among the courses Prof. Murphy regularly teaches are:

REL 231 Religious Existentialism

REL 235 Native American Religions

REL 370 Modern Atheism

REL 372 Nietzsche and Religion

REL 440 Theories of Religion

REL 490 Senior Seminar: The Semiotics of "Voodoo"


Recent Publications

"What is a Semiotic Theory of Religion" (PDF) in CSSR Bulletin 70, Vol. 34, Number 4, (11/2005)

"Religionswissenschaft as Colonial Discourse: the Case of Rudolf Otto's The Idea of the Holy." (PDF) Temenos 43/2: 117-137, 2007.

"Cultural Understandings of 'Religion': the Hermeneutical Conditions of Teaching Religion in North America" (PDF) Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 18/3: 197-222, 2006.

"Why Define Religion?" Introduction to: Defining Religion: A Reader, edited by Tim Murphy. In press with Equinox Press, forthcoming 2008. Click the title to visit the publisher's page for a full description.

"'Consciousness': the Current State of a Contested Concept in Religious Studies." Religion Compass, Online Journal, forthcoming November 2008. Click the title to visit the journal's page.

"Postmodernism, Pedagogy, and Religious Studies" (PDF), Bulletin of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion (2004)

"Discourse." Chapter in Guide to the Study of Religion (Google Books text), edited by Willi Braun and Russell T. McCutcheon, eds. Cassell Press, 2000.

"Speaking Different Languages: Religion and the Study of Religion." Chapter in Secular Theories of Religion, edited by Tim Jensen and Mikael Rothstein, Museum of Tusculanum Press (University of Copenhagen), 2000.