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 Persianate Islam, focusing on Sufism, Persian Literature, Shiʿi Islam and Quranic Exegesis. He received his BA from Harvard College, his MA from the University of Tehran, and his PhD from Georgetown University, and from 2018 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 Shiʿi and Sunni traditions. He is currently completing a book entitled Kaleidoscopic Islam: Perspectivism and the Integration of Diversity in 12th Century Persian Metaphysical Literature, which brings to light the flourishing of perspectivist and pluralistic modes of thought during the final stage of the formative phase of classical Persian literature.


He also studies Persian authors who used Quranic commentary to explore the interrelations of Twelver Shiʿism and Sufism, and has published on Ṣafī ‘Alī Shāh’s translation of and commentary upon the entire Quran in Persian verse and Sayyid Ḥaydar Āmulī’s Quran commentary, The Greatest Ocean.


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.