William E. Deal, PhD, MA, BA

Severance Professor of the History of Religion and Acting Chair
Department of Religious Studies
Department of Cognitive Science

Teaching Information

Teaching Interests

At CWRU, Dr. Deal teaches courses that focus on theory and interpretation in the academic study of religion, religion and cognitive science, comparative religious ethics, and East Asian religious and ethical traditions. His scholarship includes numerous articles, chapters, and book reviews on methodology in the academic study of religion, religion and ethics, and Japanese Buddhism. He is co-author of the book Theory for Religious Studies (Routledge) and author of Handbook to Life in Medieval and Early Modern Japan (Oxford University Press).

Research Information

Research Interests

  • Current research focuses on the cognitive science of morality and its application to the Internet of Things (IoT) and to such technologies as AI and robotics.
  • Interested in Big data, using Python to analyze the corpus of Chinese Buddhist texts.


“Religion in Archaic Japan.” In Routledge Handbook of Premodern Japanese History. Edited by Karl Friday. Routledge, 2017, pp. 187-201.

"Scriptures, Culture, and Cognition.” In Refractions of the Scriptural. Edited by Vincent L. Wimbush.Routledge, 2016, pp. 17-26.

A Cultural History of Japanese Buddhism. Co-authored with Brian Ruppert (University of Illinois).
Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.


Doctor of Philosophy
Study of Religion
Harvard University
Master of Arts
Study of Religion
Harvard University
Master of Arts
Asian Studies
Washington University (St. Louis)
Bachelor of Arts
Washington University (St. Louis)