Associate Professor Jay Johnston

Director: World Religions Program
Honours Coordinator
Postgraduate Coursework Coordinator

A20 - John Woolley Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 6840

Biographical details

Dr Jay Johnston (B.A., M.Art Admin., M.Litt(Dist), M.A.Hons, PhD) is an interdisciplinary researcher who utilises her training in religious studies, continental philosophy, gender studies, and art history to investigate theories of the intermediary, or 'in between', and its role in religious belief and practice. In particular she rethinks theories of embodiment, agency, image and materiality and their use in the construction of individual identity, religious belief and the negotiation of cultural difference. Current projects include investigating the proposition of 'prehistoric religion' and the interpretation of artefacts, images and texts of ritual power. Specific areas of interest include cultural exchange in Late Antiquity and Scottish and Norse cultures pre1400.

Previous research has focused on energetic concepts of embodiment (subtle bodies), forms of intermediary subjectivity and diverse spiritual epistemologies. Dr Johnston has also undertaken curatorial and research projects that explore religious aesthetics including viewer experience, the cultivation of perception and the interrelation of aesthetics and ethics.

Research interests

  • Western Esotericism and Mystical Traditions esp. magic and divination
  • Religion and Material Culture
  • Religious and Philosophical Aesthetics
  • Embodiment and Intersubjectivity studies
  • Subtle Bodies and Intermediary Beings (esp. angels)
  • Feminist Philosophy of Religion
  • Theoretical Archaeology
  • Theories of the Image
  • Gaelic and Scandinavian cultures pre-1400

Teaching and supervision

  • Sexuality, Gender and Religion
  • Critical Theory of Religion
  • Research Methodology
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Consumerism, Popular Culture and Religion
  • Western Esotericism and Traditions of Magic

Current projects

  • ARC Discovery Project: "The production and function of art and design elements in ancient texts and artefacts of ritual power from Late Antiquity in the Mediterranean region." Primary Chief Investigator and holds overall responsibility for this collaborative research project with Iain Gardner, Julia Kindt (Sydney); Erica Hunter (SOAS) and Helen Whitehouse (Oxford). 2012-2014.
  • "Stag and Stone: Archaeology, Religion and Esoteric Aesthetics." Forthcoming monograph that examines ontological concepts of image agency, materiality and landscape from prehistory to contemporary art. Focuses on Nordic and Celtic cultures and includes examination of museum/curatorial practice in relation to 'religious' material culture.
  • "Wellbeing Spirituality and Alternative Therapies." Examines concepts of body, health, agency and spirituality utilised in popular consumer practices. Undertaken in collaboration with Dr Ruth Barcan.

Associations

  • Runes, Monuments and Memorial Carvings: An International Research Network
  • BAHAR: Body, Health and Religion Research Group, Cardiff University
  • European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism
  • American Academy of Religion
  • AASR: Australian Association for the Study of Religion
  • HARN: Human-Animal Research Network
  • Fellow, Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain, co-convenor 'Science, Religion and Philosophy' research cluster, University of Groningen

PhD and master's project opportunities

Selected grants

2013

  • Human Animal Research Network; Probyn-Rapsey F, Belov K, Black C, Degeling C, Fawcett (Quain) A, Irvine R, Johnston J, Lea T, Kindt J, Michael M, McGreevy P, McManus P, Raubenheimer D, Schlosberg D, Spurr B, Shine R, Wadiwel D; DVC Research/Research Network Scheme (SyReNS).

2012

  • The function of images in magical papyri and artefacts of ritual power from Late Antiquity.; Johnston J, Gardner I, Kindt J, Whitehouse H, Hunter E; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

Selected publications

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Books

  • Johnston, J. (2008). Angels of desire: esoteric bodies, aesthetics and ethics. London: Equinox Publishing.

Edited Books

  • Johnston, J., Probyn-Rapsey, F. (2013). Animal death. Sydney: Sydney University Press.
  • Samuel, G., Johnston, J. (2013). Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between mind and body. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Book Chapters

  • Johnston, J. (2013). A Deliciously Troubling Duo: Gender and Esotericism. In Egil Asprem, Kennet Granholm (Eds.), Contemporary Esotericism, (pp. 410-425). Sheffield, United Kingdom: Equinox Publishing.
  • Samuel, G., Johnston, J. (2013). General Introduction. In Geoffrey Samuel, Jay Johnston (Eds.), Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between mind and body, (pp. 1-9). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Johnston, J., Probyn-Rapsey, F. (2013). Introduction. In Jay Johnston, Fiona Probyn-Rapsey (Eds.), Animal death, (pp. xiii-xx). Sydney: Sydney University Press.
  • Johnston, J. (2013). Introduction to Part Four. In Geoffrey Samuel, Jay Johnston (Eds.), Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between mind and body, (pp. 187-191). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Johnston, J. (2013). On having a furry soul: transpecies identity and ontological indeterminacy in Otherkin subcultures. In Jay Johnston, Fiona Probyn-Rapsey (Eds.), Animal death, (pp. 293-306). Sydney: Sydney University Press.
  • Johnston, J., Samuel, G. (2013). Subtle Bodies in Europe and Islam: Introduction to Part Three. In Geoffrey Samuel, Jay Johnston (Eds.), Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between mind and body, (pp. 117-119). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Johnston, J. (2013). Subtle Subjects and Ethics: The Subtle Bodies of Post-Structuralist and Feminist Philosophy. In Geoffrey Samuel, Jay Johnston (Eds.), Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between mind and body, (pp. 239-248). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Johnston, J. (2012). Theosophical Bodies: Colour, Shape and Emotion from Modern Aesthetics to Healing Therapies. In Carole Cusack and Alex Norman (Eds.), Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production, (pp. 153-170). Leiden: Brill.
  • Barcan, R., Johnston, J. (2011). Fixing the Self: Alternative Therapies and Spiritual Logics. In Michael Bailey and Guy Redden (Eds.), Mediating Faiths: Religion and Socio-Cultural Change in the Twenty-First Century, (pp. 75-87). Surrey: Ashgate.
  • Johnston, J. (2011). Reading the Body Invisible: Subtle Bodies, Astrology, and Energetic Healing. In Nicholas Campion and Liz Greene (Eds.), Astrologies: Plurality and Diversity, (pp. 201-216). United Kingdon: Sophia Centre Press.
  • Johnston, J. (2010). Cyborgs and chakras: intersubjectivity in scientific and spiritual somatechnics. In Carole M. Cusack, Christopher Hartney (Eds.), Religion and Retributive Logic: Essays in Honour of Professor Garry W. Trompf, (pp. 313-322). Leiden: Brill.
  • Johnston, J. (2010). Hermetic embodiment: angels and intersubjectivity. In Marius Timmann Mjaaland, Ola Sigurdson and Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir (Eds.), The Body Unbound: Philosophical Perspectives on Politics, Embodiment and Religion, (pp. 183-195). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • Johnston, J. (2010). Physiognomy of the Invisible: Ritual, Subtle Anatomy and Ethics. In Axel Michaels (Eds.), Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual, (pp. 351-359). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
  • Johnston, J. (2010). Subtle anatomy: the bio-metaphysics of alternative therapies. In Elizabeth Burns Coleman, Kevin White (Eds.), Medicine, Religion, and the Body, (pp. 69-78). Leiden: Brill.

Journals

  • Johnston, J. (2011). Prolegomena to Considering Drawings of Spirit-Beings in Mandaean, Gnostic and Ancient Magical Texts. ARAM Periodical, 22, 573-582. [More Information]
  • Gardner, I., Johnston, J. (2010). The Liber Bartholomaei on the Ascension: edition of Bibliotheque Nationale Copte 132 f. 37. Vigiliae Christianae, 64(1), 74-86.
  • Gardner, I., Johnston, J. (2009). The passover litany of the ''Liber Bartholomaei'': edition of Bibliotheque nationale copte 1321 F.40. Journal of Coptic Studies, 11, 61-70. [More Information]
  • McPhillips, K., Mudge, P., Johnston, J. (2007). Shifting Selves: The Struggle for Identity and Spirituality in the Work of Three Young Women Artists. International Journal of Children's Spirituality, 12(3), 233-247.
  • Johnston, J., Barcan, R. (2006). Subtle transformations: Imagining the body in alternative health practices. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 9(1), 25-44.
  • Barcan, R., Johnston, J. (2006). The Haunting: Cultural Studies, Religion and Alternative Therapies. Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(Fall), 63-81.
  • Johnston, J. (2002). The Theosophical Glance: Fluid Ontologies, Subtle Bodies and Intuitive Vision. Australian Religion Studies Review, 15(2), 101-117.

Conferences

  • Johnston, J. (2011). The Body in Wellbeing Spirituality: Self, spirit beings and the politics of difference. Religion and the Body, Finland: Donner Institute.

2013

  • Johnston, J. (2013). A Deliciously Troubling Duo: Gender and Esotericism. In Egil Asprem, Kennet Granholm (Eds.), Contemporary Esotericism, (pp. 410-425). Sheffield, United Kingdom: Equinox Publishing.
  • Johnston, J., Probyn-Rapsey, F. (2013). Animal death. Sydney: Sydney University Press.
  • Samuel, G., Johnston, J. (2013). General Introduction. In Geoffrey Samuel, Jay Johnston (Eds.), Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between mind and body, (pp. 1-9). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Johnston, J., Probyn-Rapsey, F. (2013). Introduction. In Jay Johnston, Fiona Probyn-Rapsey (Eds.), Animal death, (pp. xiii-xx). Sydney: Sydney University Press.
  • Johnston, J. (2013). Introduction to Part Four. In Geoffrey Samuel, Jay Johnston (Eds.), Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between mind and body, (pp. 187-191). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Johnston, J. (2013). On having a furry soul: transpecies identity and ontological indeterminacy in Otherkin subcultures. In Jay Johnston, Fiona Probyn-Rapsey (Eds.), Animal death, (pp. 293-306). Sydney: Sydney University Press.
  • Samuel, G., Johnston, J. (2013). Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between mind and body. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Johnston, J., Samuel, G. (2013). Subtle Bodies in Europe and Islam: Introduction to Part Three. In Geoffrey Samuel, Jay Johnston (Eds.), Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between mind and body, (pp. 117-119). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  • Johnston, J. (2013). Subtle Subjects and Ethics: The Subtle Bodies of Post-Structuralist and Feminist Philosophy. In Geoffrey Samuel, Jay Johnston (Eds.), Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West: Between mind and body, (pp. 239-248). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

2012

  • Johnston, J. (2012). Theosophical Bodies: Colour, Shape and Emotion from Modern Aesthetics to Healing Therapies. In Carole Cusack and Alex Norman (Eds.), Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production, (pp. 153-170). Leiden: Brill.

2011

  • Barcan, R., Johnston, J. (2011). Fixing the Self: Alternative Therapies and Spiritual Logics. In Michael Bailey and Guy Redden (Eds.), Mediating Faiths: Religion and Socio-Cultural Change in the Twenty-First Century, (pp. 75-87). Surrey: Ashgate.
  • Johnston, J. (2011). Prolegomena to Considering Drawings of Spirit-Beings in Mandaean, Gnostic and Ancient Magical Texts. ARAM Periodical, 22, 573-582. [More Information]
  • Johnston, J. (2011). Reading the Body Invisible: Subtle Bodies, Astrology, and Energetic Healing. In Nicholas Campion and Liz Greene (Eds.), Astrologies: Plurality and Diversity, (pp. 201-216). United Kingdon: Sophia Centre Press.
  • Johnston, J. (2011). The Body in Wellbeing Spirituality: Self, spirit beings and the politics of difference. Religion and the Body, Finland: Donner Institute.

2010

  • Johnston, J. (2010). Cyborgs and chakras: intersubjectivity in scientific and spiritual somatechnics. In Carole M. Cusack, Christopher Hartney (Eds.), Religion and Retributive Logic: Essays in Honour of Professor Garry W. Trompf, (pp. 313-322). Leiden: Brill.
  • Johnston, J. (2010). Hermetic embodiment: angels and intersubjectivity. In Marius Timmann Mjaaland, Ola Sigurdson and Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir (Eds.), The Body Unbound: Philosophical Perspectives on Politics, Embodiment and Religion, (pp. 183-195). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • Johnston, J. (2010). Physiognomy of the Invisible: Ritual, Subtle Anatomy and Ethics. In Axel Michaels (Eds.), Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual, (pp. 351-359). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
  • Johnston, J. (2010). Subtle anatomy: the bio-metaphysics of alternative therapies. In Elizabeth Burns Coleman, Kevin White (Eds.), Medicine, Religion, and the Body, (pp. 69-78). Leiden: Brill.
  • Gardner, I., Johnston, J. (2010). The Liber Bartholomaei on the Ascension: edition of Bibliotheque Nationale Copte 132 f. 37. Vigiliae Christianae, 64(1), 74-86.

2009

  • Gardner, I., Johnston, J. (2009). The passover litany of the ''Liber Bartholomaei'': edition of Bibliotheque nationale copte 1321 F.40. Journal of Coptic Studies, 11, 61-70. [More Information]

2008

  • Johnston, J. (2008). Angels of desire: esoteric bodies, aesthetics and ethics. London: Equinox Publishing.

2007

  • McPhillips, K., Mudge, P., Johnston, J. (2007). Shifting Selves: The Struggle for Identity and Spirituality in the Work of Three Young Women Artists. International Journal of Children's Spirituality, 12(3), 233-247.

2006

  • Johnston, J., Barcan, R. (2006). Subtle transformations: Imagining the body in alternative health practices. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 9(1), 25-44.
  • Barcan, R., Johnston, J. (2006). The Haunting: Cultural Studies, Religion and Alternative Therapies. Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(Fall), 63-81.

2002

  • Johnston, J. (2002). The Theosophical Glance: Fluid Ontologies, Subtle Bodies and Intuitive Vision. Australian Religion Studies Review, 15(2), 101-117.

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