Medieval Studies

Medieval Studies Medieval Studies

Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz

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Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Hinduism
  • Women and religion
  • Himalayan religions

Research Description

  • Professor Birkenholtz’s areas of research include the comparative study of Hindu religious identity, practice, and literature from the medieval period to the present day, Hindu goddess traditions in Nepal and India, and gender and religion. Her first book, Reciting the Goddess: Narratives of Place and the Making of Hinduism in Nepal (Oxford University Press, 2018) examines the history and development of Nepal’s Svasthānī tradition, the widely read Svasthānī Vrata Kathā, and the role both goddess and text have played in Nepal’s historical construction as a Hindu state. She also co-edited Religion and Modernity in the Himalaya (Rutledge, 2016). Professor Birkenholtz is the Reviews Editor for HIMALAYA, the Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies. 


  • PhD University of Chicago, 2010
  • BA Vassar College, 1998

Distinctions / Awards

LLS Titles & Affiliations

  • Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Medieval Studies



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Book Contributions

  • Birkenholtz, Jessica V. "From Text to Internet, Aniconic to Statuesque: Modern Textual and Performative Innovations in a Nepali Goddess Tradition." Religion and Modernity in the Himalaya. . Routledge Press, 2016.

Edited Books

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Journal Articles

  • Birkenholtz, Jessica V. "On Becoming A Woman: Shakti, Storytelling, and Women's Roles and Rights in Nepal." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 44.2 (2019):
  • "Seeking Svasthani: The Politics of Gender, Location, Iconography and Identity in Hindu Nepal." Journal of Hindu Studies 6.2 (2013): 198-227.
  • "Review of Women in the Hindu Tradition Rules Roles and Exceptions by Mandakranta Bose." Journal of Hindu Studies 5.1 (2010):

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