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Emily FitzGerald

Lecturer of Philosophy

Emily is a PhD candidate at Columbia University in Philosophy of Religion. After graduating from Purchase in 2010, she taught English in Japan, backpacked through parts of Asia and Central America, and returned to New York in 2014 to pursue her Masters and MPhil. In addition to teaching at Purchase, she is a martial arts instructor, writing coach, and SEO producer and copy editor. She is currently the Columbia Religion Department’s Teaching Scholars Fellow, where she teaches an interactive and multimedia course called “Embodiment: (Re)Defining the Human.”


More About Me

Recent Positions and Projects:

  • Columbia University Religion Department Teaching Scholars Fellow (2023-2024)
  • SOLER (Science of Learning Research Initiative) Research Assistant & Consultant (2023-2024)
  • Senior Lead Teaching Fellow for the Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (2022-2023)
  • VP and Social Chair of the Columbia Religion Graduate Student Association (3 years)
  • “The Mother, the Daughter, and the Wholly Monster: Personhood in Monstress” — article forthcoming in Religion and Horror Comics from Claremont Press, CA.
  • “Embodying Learning: Praxis as Theory” — Teaching artifact for an open education resource organized by fellow graduate students at Columbia (2021)
  • Women in the Martial Arts World” - Krav Talk Podcast (2023)​​
  • “Making Space for Virtual Kata in Embodied Imagination” - University of Toronto Philosophy Graduate Conference (2023)
  • “Limited Virtual Space as Expanded Liminal Creativity in Kata Practice” - CUNY Graduate Center Conference for the Society for Philosophers of the Pandemic Generation (2023)
  • “Embodied Imagination: Martial Arts in Our Virtual Reality” - Florida State University Graduate Conference (2023)
  • “NOPE: How to Refuse the Cannibalistic Culture of the Spectacle” - seminar paper for Gonzaga University’s Faith & Reason Institute (2023)
  • “Teaching with Embodied Knowledge” - Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning, Learning Community Workshop (2022)
  • “Holistic Embodiment: Eastern and Western Perspectives” — Purchase Philosophy Society Talk (2021)
  • “Integrating Martial Arts, Creativity, and Compassion” - Harlem Brain Community Event Panelist (2021)
  • “Beggars in Spain: The Meaning of Life without Work” — Columbia Graduate Student Conference in Religion (2017)

Research Interests

Emily is primarily interested in embodied ontology: what it means to exist in, with, and as our bodies. In that vein, she finds phenomenology, deconstruction, ritual theory, and certain strands of East Asian philosophy and religion to be most helpful in her work. Her dissertation, which she will complete in spring 2024, is called “Empty Hands: Embodied Imagination in Non-Duality.” In it, she uses her experience with and interest in martial arts, karate kata in particular, to explore how the themes of Buddhist emptiness, phenomenological flesh, deconstructive play, and rhizomatics are helpful for increasing embodied knowledge. Embodied knowledge can in turn lead to more ethical and creative possibilities for human being, particularly in the realms of technology, education, and art.

Representative Courses

  • Intro to Human Nature
  • Intro to Asian Thought
  • Classical Buddhist Philosophy