Dr. Susan Kwilecki

Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies


Ph.D., Stanford University

Teaching interests: I like to study religious life in its strongest, most dramatic forms.  Thus, in addition to the intro level courses, I teach:

  • RELN 206: Survey of Religious Experiences: Academic study of Near Death and mystical experiences, demon possession, angel and ghost encounters, channeling.
  • RELN 370: American Sects and Cults: The controversy generated by “dangerous” religions such as the Peoples Temple (900 people drank poisoned Kool-Aid) and Heaven’s Gate (members committed suicide in order to board a spacecraft).
  • RELN 381: Religion and Death: The myriad ways religions depict and address the harsh reality that we all die—views of the afterlife, contact with the dead, funerals.

Research interests: Focuses on After-Death Communications, a contemporary American type of ghost encounter. Spirits of deceased loved ones reportedly contact grief-stricken survivors through visions, dreams, voices, odors, coincidences, the computer, or the telephone. “I’m okay, I’m nearby, I love you,” say the ghosts, who are described as healthy, happy, kind, and helpful—in contrast to the vindictive, preachy, frightening apparitions reported in other cultural settings.