Portrait of Cynthia Eller
  • Email
    cynthia.eller@cgu.edu
  • Degrees
    PhD, Social Ethics, USC
    MA, Social Ethics, USC
    BA, Social Philosophy, University of La Verne
  • Research Interests
    Women and religion, new religious movements, methods and theories in the study of religion, religion in North America

Cynthia Eller is a professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University. Eller specializes in women and religion, new religious movements, methods and theories in the study of religion, and religion in North America.

Eller received her PhD in Social Ethics from the University of Southern California and has used a variety of methods to engage with topics in the study of religion. Her dissertation was on conscientious objection in World War II, focusing on the forms of moral argumentation objectors used to justify their principled choices. She is best known for her work on the feminist spirituality movement and the role of matriarchal ideas in the Western and feminist imaginations. Eller has taught at Montclair State University, Princeton University, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Yale Divinity School, and she currently serves as the editor for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the flagship journal in the field of religious studies.

Her years of teaching introductory courses in religion yielded two all-digital textbooks that are used at universities throughout the United States and Canada: Revealing World Religions and Revealing Religion (a topical introduction to religious studies). Her books include Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America (Crossroad, 1993), The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future (Beacon Press, 2000), Am I a Woman? A Skeptic’s Guide to Gender (Beacon Press, 2003), and Gentlemen and Amazons: The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory, 1861–1900 (University of California Press, 2011).

“Matriarchy and the Volk,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 81/1 (2013): 188–221.

“Two Knights and a Goddess: Sir Arthur Evans, Sir James George Frazer, and the Invention of Minoan Religion,” Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 25/1/ (2012): 75–98.

Gentlemen and Amazons: The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory, 1861–1900. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.

Am I a Woman? A Skeptic’s Guide to Gender. Boston: Beacon Press, 2003.

The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future. Boston: Beacon Press, 2000.

Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America. New York: Crossroad, 1995.

Theories of Religion
Matriarchal & Gynocentric Societies
The History & Anthropology of Witchcraft