Browse Entire Collection

Document Type


Interview Date



What lead you to your present academic interest?

Dr. Catherine Bell, former Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University introduces herself as a scholar with a Catholic family background and an undergraduate degree in philosophy. She became interested in the academic study of religion and moved to her current study of Chinese religion and ritual as a way of understanding how people construct a worldview with beliefs that differ significantly from her own worldview.

Streaming Media


Playing Time: 2:49 minutes

About the Interviewee:

Catherine M. Bell was professor of religious studies, and an internationally renowned expert on ritual and Chinese religions. She joined the University of Santa Clara faculty in 1985 and was named the Bernard Hanley Professor of Religious Studies in 1998.

A native of New York, Bell earned her bachelor’s degree at Manhattanville College and completed her Ph.D. at University of Chicago. She taught in Japan and took a post-doctoral fellowship for Chinese language study in Taiwan. Her work as a fellow of the Center for Chinese Studies at University of California, Berkeley and with the Chinese Popular Culture Project at Berkeley, led to her major work, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, published in 1992.

A legendary teacher and mentor, Bell regularly taught introductory courses in religious studies and an array of courses on Asian religions. In 2007 she was awarded an NEH fellowship for her final, unfinished project, Believing: Assuming Universality, Describing Particularity in the Study of Religion. Dr. Catherine Bell died in 2008.

About the Interviewer:

Dr. Alfred Benney is a professor of Religious Studies at Fairfield University. He has a Ph.D in Theology from the Hartford Seminary Foundation and teaches courses in Non-Traditional American Religions and Christian Religious Thought. His research interests include "how people learn"; "the appropriate use of technology in teaching/learning" and "myth as explanatory narrative". He has published work on teaching with technology.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.