Dr. Harris is an Assistant Professor of Religion. He holds a Ph.D. (2008) and a M.A. (2001) in Asian Cultures and Languages from the Department of Asian Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. He also carries a B.A. (1996) in Philosophy from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Harris was the recipient of the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad grant (2003-2004) to conduct research in Tamil Nadu, India.
Dr. Harris’ research centers primarily on medieval Hindu traditions in south India. In particular, his work focuses on Tamil devotional literature in the Śaiva tradition, its formation, and its subsequent reception and influence on philosophical thought. His primary focus is a tenth-century poet-saint whose hymns are still used in public and private ritual and worship. Dr. Harris is currently working on a monograph that traces the development of the concept aruḷ—a Tamil philosophical term that signifies a deity’s generative and salvific energy—through four genres of literature: classical Tamil poetry (100 BCE-450 CE), Tamil ethical literature (ca. 400 CE), medieval Śaiva devotional poetry (ca. 500 CE-1000 CE), and Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta philosophical treatises (ca. 1100-1400 CE). This study examines how the concept evolved out of secular literature to become the single most important concept in Tamil Śaiva religious thought.