Philip A. Lutgendorf, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Philip Lutgendorf taught Hindi and Modern Indian Studies in the Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature for 33 years, retiring in 2018. His book on the performance of the Hindi Ramayana, The Life of a Text (University of California Press, 1991) won the A. K. Coomaraswamy Prize of the Association for Asian Studies. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002-03 for his research on the popular Hindu deity Hanuman, which appeared as Hanuman’s Tale, The Messages of a Divine Monkey (Oxford University Press, 2007). His interests include epic performance traditions, folklore and popular culture, and mass media.  He created a website devoted to Indian popular cinema, a.k.a. “Bollywood” ( ). His research on the cultural history of tea drinking in India was supported by a Fulbright-Hays Senior Overseas Research Fellowship (2010-11). He is presently translating the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas as The Epic of Ram, in seven dual-language volumes, for the Murty Classical Library of India/Harvard University Press ( ). He served as President of the American Institute of Indian Studies from 2010-2018, and continues serving as Chair of its Board of Trustees ( ).

Selected Publications 

  • 2022, 2020, 2018, 2016. Tulsidas, The Epic of Ram. Translated by Philip Lutgendorf. Vols. 1-6 (of 7). Murty Classical Library of India. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 
  • 2019. “Lost in the Lake: Tulsidas and his Others.” In Gil Ben-Herut, Jon Keune, and Anne Monius (eds.), Regional Communities of Devotion in South Asia: Insiders, Outsiders and Interlopers, 160-176. London and New York: Routledge. 
  • 2014. “The Roles of Ritual in Two ‘Blockbuster’ Hindi Films.” In Linda Penkower and Tracy Pintchman (eds.), Hindu Ritual at the Margins: Innovations, Transformations, Reconsiderations, 57-79. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, SC. 
  • 2012. “Making Tea in India: Chai, Capitalism, Culture.” Thesis Eleven 113.1, 11-31. 
  • 2012. “Tulsidas” (6000 words) Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 4, 429-437; Leiden: E. J. Brill. 
  • 2012.  “The ‘Mira Trope’ in Mainstream Hindi Cinema. Three Examples from Notable Films.” In Stefania Cavaliere (ed.), Gurumala. Proceedings of the Seminar in honour of Shyam Manohar Pandey (Naples, 30.10.2008). 123-43. Naples: Annali dell’Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale” 68/2008. 
  • 2008.  “Bending the Bharata: Two Uncommon Cinematic Adaptations.”  In Heidi Pauwels (ed.),  Popular Indian Cinema and Literature: Recasting the Tradition.  London: Routledge, pp. 19-41. 
  • 2007.  “Sex in the Snow: The Himalayas as Erotic Topos in Popular Hindi Cinema.”  Himalaya (journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies), 25: 1-2 (postdated 2005), pp. 29-37. 
  • 2007. Hanuman’s Tale, The Messages of a Divine Monkey. New York: Oxford University Press (434 pp.).  
  • 2006.  “Is There an Indian Way of Filmmaking?”  International Journal of Hindu Studies, 10.3, pp. 227-56. 
  • 2002  “A Superhit Goddess/A Made-to-Satisfaction Goddess: Jai Santoshi Maa Revisited.”  Manushi, a Journal About Women and Society, 131:10-16, 24-37. 
  • 2002  “Evolving a Monkey:  Hanuman, Poster Art, and Postcolonial Anxiety.”  In Contributions to Indian Sociology, Vol. 36:1,2.  Pp. 71-112.  Also published in Sumathi Ramaswamy, ed., Beyond Appearances? Visual Practices and Ideologies in Modern India. New Delhi: Thousand Oaks; London: Sage Publications (2003).  Pp. 71-112.  
  • 2000.  “City, Forest, and Cosmos:  Ecological Perspectives from the Sanskrit Epics,” in Christopher Key Chapple and Mary Evelyn Tucker (eds.), Hinduism and Ecology.  Harvard University Press, 269-289. 
  • 2000.  “Dining Out at Lake Pampa:  The Shabari Episode in Multiple Ramayanas,” in Paula Richman (ed.), Questioning Ramayanas.  Oxford University Press, 119-136. 
  • 1997.  “Imagining Ayodhya:  Utopia and its Shadows in a Hindu Landscape.”  International Journal of Hindu Studies, 1:1, 19-54. 
  • 1995.  “All in the (Raghu) Family.”  In Lawrence A. Babb and Susan S. Wadley (eds.), Media and the Transformation of Religions in South Asia, 217-53.  Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania Press; and in Robert C. Allen (ed.), To Be Continued....Soap Operas Around the World, 321-53.  London:  Routledge. (revised version of 1990 "Ramayan: The Video")
  • 1994.  “My Hanuman Is Bigger than Yours.”   History of Religions 33:3, 211-45. 
  • 1994.  “The Quest for the Legendary Tulsidas.”   In Winand M. Callewaert and Rupert Snell (eds.), According to Tradition:  Hagiographical Writing in India, 65-85.  Wiesbaden:  Otto Harrassowitz. (Expanded version of 1993 "The Quest") 
  • 1992.  “The Secret Life of Ramchandra of Ayodhya.”   In Paula Richman (ed.), Many Ramayanas:  The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia, 217-34.  Berkeley and Los Angeles:  University of California Press. 
  • 1991.  The Life of a Text:  Performing the Ramcaritmanas of Tulsidas.  Berkeley and Los Angeles:  University of California Press.  (469 pp.)  
  • 1989.  “Ram’s Story in Shiva’s City:  Public Arenas and Private Patronage,” in Sandria Freitag (ed.), Culture and Power in Banaras:  Community, Performance and Environment, 1800-1980, 34-61.  Berkeley and Los Angeles:  University of California Press. 
  • 1989.  “The View from the Ghats:  Traditional Exegesis of a Hindu Epic.”  Journal of Asian Studies  48, 272-88. 

Website: 2002 –  “Philip’s Fil-ums: Notes on Indian Popular Cinema.(

Research Interests

  • Bhakti literature
  • Hindi cinema
Research areas
  • Hindi
Philip A Lutgendorf
Ph.D. in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, with distinction, University of Chicago, 1987

667 Phillips Hall (PH)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States