Nicholas Boylston, PhD

Picture of Nicholas Boylston

PhD, The Study of Religion

Assistant Professor, Theology and Religious Studies

Phone: 206-296-6000

Building/Room: Casey 230-11

Nicholas Boylston CV (PDF)


Dr. Nicholas Boylston is a scholar of Islamic Studies focusing on Shii Studies, Quranic Studies, Sufism and Persian literature. He received his BA from Harvard College, his MA from the University of Tehran, and his PhD from Georgetown University, and from 2017 to 2021 taught at Harvard University as Lecturer and College Fellow.

Dr. Boylston’s research focuses on themes of diversity and unity in the writings of Sufis, philosophers and litterateurs from the Persianate world in both the Twelver Shii and Sunni traditions. He is currently investigating the role of Quranic exegesis in the development, articulation and negotiation of Shii-Sufi thought and identity, and is writing a manuscript on Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī’s Quran commentary The Greatest Ocean. He also studies the development of pluralistic modes of discourse in 12th century Persian literature, and has published on Ḥakīm Sanā’ī and ‘Ayn al-Quḍāt Hamadānī.

Selected Publications: “Quranic Exegesis at the Confluence of Twelver Shiʿism and Sufism: Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī’s al-Muḥīṭ al-a‘ẓam (The Greatest Ocean).” The Journal of Qur’anic Studies, 23(1), 2020, 1–35. “Islam from the Inside Out: ‘Ayn al-Quḍāt’s Destruction and Reconstruction of Islam as Vector.” Journal of Islamic Studies, 32(2), May 2021, 161–202. “Speaking the Secrets of Sanctity in the Tafsīr of Ṣafī ‘Alī Shāh” in Approaches to the Qur'an in Contemporary Iran, ed. Alessandro Cancian, Oxford: Oxford University Press in association with the institute of Ismaili Studies, 2019, 243-70.