René Girard, Ph.D. was born in the southern French city of Avignon on Christmas day in 1923. Between 1943 and 1947, he studied in Paris at the École des Chartres, an institution for the training of archivists and historians, where he specialized in medieval history. In 1947 he went to Indiana University on a year's fellowship and eventually made almost his entire career in the United States. He completed a PhD in history at Indiana University in 1950 but also began to teach literature, the field in which he would first make his reputation. He taught at Duke University and at Bryn Mawr before becoming a professor at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. In 1971 he went to the State University of New York at Buffalo for five years, returned to Johns Hopkins, and then finished his academic career at Stanford University where he taught between 1981 and his retirement in 1995.
Girard continues to lecture and write and still offers a seminar at Stanford, where he and his wife Martha make their home. In 1990, friends and colleagues of Girard's established the Colloquium on Violence and Religion to further research and discussion about the themes of Girard's work. The Colloquium meets annually either in Europe or the United States.