Photo of Gwendolyn Gillson
  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion and East Asian Studies


  • PhD, University of Iowa, 2018
  • MA, University of Iowa, 2015
  • MLIS, University of Oklahoma, 2012
  • BA, Gustavus Adolphus College, 2009


Professor Gillson’s research focuses on the interplay between gender, lived religion, and Japanese religions, particularly Buddhism. She seeks to explore what it means to be a contemporary Buddhist woman through feminist ethnography centered on the Japanese urban religious landscape. Her current manuscript project, Feeling Buddhism, analyzes the affective and embodied experiences among the nuns, temple wives, and laywomen of the Pure Land Sect (Jōdoshū) and the Japan-based International Ladies Association of Buddhism.

Professor Gillson teaches courses in East Asian religions, gender and sexuality within Asian religions, and religious globalization.

  • Presidential Graduate Research Fellowship, University of Iowa, 2012-2018
  • U.S. Fulbright Graduate Research Fellow, Japan-United States Fulbright Commission, 2016-2017
  • Alice Lampe Heidel and John B. Heidel Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of Iowa, 2016
  • Louis B. Penningroth Scholarship for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring, University of Iowa, 2015
  • Kansai Summer Language Institute Grant, Japan Foundation, 2014