Narrating Religion. A Meta-Theoretical Reinterpretation of Mircea Eliade’s Religious Studies and Literary Complete Works

Mircea Eliade (1907–1986) is one of the 20th century’s most influential and productive religious scholars, as well as the author of numerous novels, short stories, and autobiographies. To this day, he serves as a focal point for discussions of methodology in religious studies, a position which can largely be attributed to his phenomenological approach. Yet the current situation surrounding his work might be seen as contradictory and unsatisfying: On the one hand, Eliade remains popular and continues to have a strong discursive influence. On the other hand, he has been tossed to the sidelines of religious studies. This doctoral thesis attempted a critical reintegration of Eliade into modern religious studies.

Through a critical reading of Eliade’s literary and theological texts, the project aimed to open up his complete works to innovative and fruitful analyses. To this end, it examined whether and to what extent Eliade’s widely received and influential work can be productively reexamined through, for example, narrative and dialogical approaches in religious studies. Central questions concerned the power of interpretation and the correlation between facts and fiction in Eliade’s specific emplotment of religious history. Moreover, this research project was an attempt to contribute to a narratology of theological texts that promotes critical methodological debates within the field of religious studies.

ZfL Doctoral Fellowship 2014–2015
Head researcher(s): Stefanie Burkhardt