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Release: April 22, 2002

Lutgendorf wins Guggenheim Fellowship for research on Hindu god

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Philip Lutgendorf, associate professor in the department of Asian languages and literature in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship that will fund a year's work on his current book project.

Supported by the fellowship during the 2002-03 academic year, Lutgendorf plans to finish a book about the Hindu monkey-god Hanuman, examining the range of meanings Hanuman embodies for his worshipers and the religious practices that these have inspired. Hanuman is one of the most cherished deities in contemporary Hindu culture, is worshiped in countless temples and shrines, and also appears in such popular media as posters, comic books, films, and a television series. Lutgendorf says that Hanuman is often celebrated in oral traditions and non-elite texts, but has generally been overlooked by academic scholars as a “minor” deity.

Lutgendorf has been teaching at UI since 1985 and served as the chair of Asian languages and literature from 1995-2001. Lutgendorf's area of study includes the religion and popular culture of medieval and modern India, and in recent years his interest has expanded to include Indian popular cinema (reflected in his recently-created website, http://www.uiowa.edu/~incinema). He has published numerous articles and book chapters, and his 1991 book on Ramayana performance traditions, The Life of a Text, won the A. K. Coomaraswamy Prize of the Association for Asian Studies. He regularly creates new courses at the UI, such as “Introduction to Indian Popular Cinema” (fall 2000), and “Goddesses in India” (spring 2001).

The Guggenheim Foundation offers fellowships to further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts. The fellowships are awarded to men and women who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts and promise for future accomplishment. U.S. Sen. Simon Guggenheim and his wife established the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 1925 as a memorial to a son who died in 1922.