Molly Bassett

Dr. Molly Bassett is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies of Religious Studies at Georgia State University. Her scholarship aims at understanding the intersection of religion and the natural world in Aztec and Nahua cultures. In her first book, The Fate of Earthly Things: Aztec Gods and God-Bodies (University of Texas Press 2015), she explores concepts of god (teotl) and deity embodiment (teixiptla) in Bernardino de Sahagún’s Florentine Codex (c. 1580). Dr. Bassett argues that the Nahuatl term “teotl” carried a set of five culturally dependent denotations. In addition, particular processes of ritual manufacture, such as the wearing of flayed skin and deity paraphernalia, led to the transformation of ordinary materials, including human beings, into living god-bodies.

Dr. Bassett’s current project investigates the distinction (or lack thereof) between the natural and supernatural worlds through the Florentine Codex’s descriptions of key features of the environment, such as ocelots, poisonous fish, and mountains. In this work, she proposes quimilli, “bundle” as an organizational metaphor for the homologies Nahuas recognize(d) in the super/natural world.

Other recent projects include a co-edited volume, Sainthood and Race: Marked Flesh, Holy Flesh (Routledge 2014), and an article on critical thinking in the study of religions as part of a Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religious Studies colloquy. Dr. Bassett’s work appears in Material Religion, History of Religions, and Teaching Theology and Religion.


Contributions by Molly Bassett


Applied Religious Studies at Georgia State University

In this episode, Professor Molly Bassett, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Georgia State University speaks about her program’s efforts to develop applied religious studies master’s certificates in “Religion and Aging” and “Nonprofit Management.”




Modern & Lofton Illumine “Religion”

Lofton points out that while many scholars recognize the shortcomings of Geertz’s work, we can’t stop reading it. Admittedly, it’s great fun to teach in undergrad courses. Why’s that? I think . . . one of the underlying directives of Class 200 is to get that kind of conversation going, just that very notion of is there a relationship between description and explanation and what is it . . . The idea, I think underlying Class 200, is this notion that the way in which you write informs your argument, ...




The Fate of Earthly Things

In this interview, Molly Bassett begins by introducing us to the world of Middle America, the sources scholars use today to study this period and its cultures, and then describes the benefits and challenges of teaching with Meso-American materials. Her students learn not only to challenge the categories scholars use to describe religious ideas like "god," ...