Dr. MacWilliams is a Professor of Religious Studies. He teaches courses in several areas in the field for the Department, but his interests lie primarily in Japan. His major course offerings include:
REL 100 - Mystery and Meaning; the Department’s 100 level introductory course on the study of religion.
REL 200 - Explaining Religion.
REL 218 - Fantasy Religion; Japanese Anime and Spirituality.
REL 222 - The Buddhist Religious Tradition.
REL 223 - Religious Life of China.
REL 226 - Religious Life of Japan;
REL 331 - Pilgrimage as a Spiritual Journey.
REL 334 - The Ways of the Gods; Shinto in Modern Japanese Religion.
REL 3019 - Buddhism and Neuroscience (with Joe Erlichman)
REL 273 - Religion and Visual Culture.
He received his Ph.D. in History of Religions at the University of Chicago, his M.A. in Religious Studies at Indiana University, and his B.A. at Syracuse University.
Dr. MacWilliams has conducted special research in Japanese pilgrimage in Japan —particularly the Chichibu Kannon pilgrimage route, and is interested in religion and film; religion and the internet; and "spirituality" and religion in Japanese pop culture - comic books (manga) and anime.
Dr. MacWilliams is on leave in Fall 2022/Spring 2023, which he plans to use to complete a book on Japanese manga entitled Graphically Religious---Manga in Japan. He also continues to actively work on his Scalar database on the Chichibu pilgrimage; a resource for faculty and students alike interested in Japanese pilgrimage. Click for complete CV.
Recent publications include:
Book: Defining Shinto, ed. and trans. with Okuyama Michiaki (Routledge, 2019).
Recent Articles/Book Chapters/Translations:
Bonji Kawazura, “Manifesto,” Translation for Miizukai (a Corporate Judicial Person), Japan, 2022.
“Manga Pilgrimages—Visualizing the Sacred/Sacralizing the Visual in Japanese Junrei,” in Comics, Culture & Religion—Gods in Frames, edited by Kees de Groot (Bloomsbury Press, 2024).
“Manufacturing Shinto in Anglo-American World Religions Textbooks,” Journal of Religion in Japan 6 (2018):1-37.
Self-Published Site: E-Site Pilgrimages Canton to Chichibu: Pilgrimages to Kannon and Jizô Bosatsu---East and West (http://scalar.usc.edu/works/pilgrimages-canton-to-chichibu/index).
Forthcoming (under contract):
“Serialization: Japanese Religions in “a Secular Age”-- Mark R. Mullin’s Yasukuni Fundamentalism: Japanese Religions and the Politics of Restoration,” Religious Studies Review 49-4 (Winter, 2023).
Graphically Religious: Visual Representations in Japanese Religion (Contract with Routledge). Working on manuscript 2024 due date.
A Critical Introduction to Religion: Defining, Imagining, and Interpreting Religious Maps (Routledge , 2026 )