Sarah Jacoby

Assistant Professor of Religion
Department of Religious Studies
Office: Crowe Hall, 1860 Campus Drive, 4-149
Phone: 847-467-1304

Office Hours: Friday 10AM - 12PM (Spring 2014)

Sarah Jacoby studies South Asian Religions with a specialization in Tibetan Buddhism. She received her B.A. from Yale University, majoring in women's studies, and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia's Department of Religious Studies. She joined Northwestern University in 2009 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University. Her research interests include Indo-Tibetan Buddhist doctrine and ritual in practice, studies in gender and sexuality, Tibetan literature, autobiography studies, Buddhist revelation, Buddhism in contemporary Tibet, and Eastern Tibetan area studies. Professor Jacoby is the co-chair of the Tibetan and Himalayan Religions Group at the American Academy of Religion.

Professor Jacoby received an American Council of Learned Sciences (ACLS) Fellowship for the 2012-2013 academic year. Her research has also been funded by The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, the Charlotte W. Newcombe Dissertation Writing Fellowship, the Fulbright Hays Dissertation Research Fellowship, and multiple Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships (FLAS).

She is completing a book manuscript that is the first study in any language of the autobiographical writings of one of the most prolific female authors in pre-1950s Tibetan history, Sera Khandro (1892-1940). Her research aims to better understand the roles of women and sexuality within particular Eastern Tibetan religious communities by listening closely to the many conversations Sera Khandro recounts in her autobiographical writings that convey not only her own sentiments, concerns, and values, but those of her interlocutors and their wider community. What we hear through these dialogues redefines current conceptions about the roles of women in Tantra and the place of love within Buddhism.

Her other book projects include a book she co-edited with Antonio Terrone entitled Buddhism Beyond the Monastery: Tantric Practices and their Performers in Tibet and the Himalayas (Brill, 2009) and a book she co-authored with Donald Mitchell titled Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience (Oxford University Press, 2014).

In 2012 Professor Jacoby was voted by Northwestern students onto the ASG Faculty Honor Roll and awarded a teaching excellence award from the Department of Religious Studies. Courses she teaches include Introduction to Buddhism, South Asian Goddess Traditions, Buddhism and Gender, Buddhist Auto/biography, Tibetan Religion and Culture, and Theory and Methods in the Study of Religion.

Selected Works



Co-authored with Donald MItchell. Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.


Co-edited with Antonio Terrone. Buddhism beyond the Monastery: Tantric Practices and their Performers in Tibet and the Himalayas. Leiden: Brill, 2009.


Sarah H. Jacoby, "The Excellent Path of Devotion: An Annotated Translation of Sera Khandro's Short Autobiography," in Himalayan Passages: Tibetan and Newar Studies in Honor of Hubert Decleer. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2014.

“To be or not to be Celibate: Morality and Consort Practices According to the Treasure Revealer Sera Khandro’s (1892-1940) Auto/biographical Writings.” In Sarah Jacoby and Antonio Terrone (eds), Buddhism beyond the Monastery: Tantric Practices and their Performers in Modern Tibet. Leiden: Brill, 2009.

"This Inferior Female Body:’ Reflections on Life as a Treasure Revealer Through the Autobiographical Eyes of Se ra mkha’ ‘gro (Bde ba’i rdo rje, 1892-1940).” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. 32/1-2 (2009/2010): pp. 115-150.



See a video of Professor Jacoby presenting the significance of her research on Sera Khandro for the humanities at the 2013 ACLS annual meeting panel titled "Emerging Themes and Methods of Humanities Research: Discussion with ACLS Fellows"


Religious Studies Photos

June 10, 2014