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University of Iowa News Release


March 1, 2007

UI Professor To Lead American Institute of Indian Studies' Language Programs

India has more than 20 official languages, and the post-9/11 climate is driving up demand for Americans to learn some of those languages.

The American Institute of Indian Studies plays a major role in helping U.S. students learn the languages of India. A consortium of about 50 American colleges and universities, including the University of Iowa, the institute offers language immersion and research programs in five Indian cities.

Starting in April, a University of Iowa professor will direct the institute's language programs. Philip Lutgendorf is a professor of Hindi language and Modern Indian Studies. He is completing his third term as chairman of the Department of Asian Languages and Literature in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Lutgendorf will maintain his position at the UI, where he has been a faculty member since 1985. He will oversee the institute's teaching staff, which includes more than 30 instructors in India. In addition, he will work to secure public and private grants to support the programs and fund scholarships.

Lutgendorf accepted the appointment as a volunteer after several years of service on the institute's language program selection committee, which sifts through applications to determine which students will be accepted. He will handle his duties from Iowa City, using email and traveling to India frequently.

The American Institute of Indian Studies is an institution Lutgendorf believes in. It played a key role in his educational experience. He studied there during the 1979-1980 academic year while living in Delhi with his family.

"The institute had a tremendous impact on me," Lutgendorf said. "It was one of the most valuable learning experiences of my life, so I've always been an advocate for these programs. I learned most of the Hindi I know through this program, and I've sent many University of Iowa students there."

Established in 1961 by a group of American scholars involved with Indian studies programs at leading American universities, the institute attracted more than 130 students to its language and research programs last year. Languages taught at the institute include Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Sanskrit and Urdu, among others.

Visit for more information on the institute.

Lutgendorf teaches courses on written and oral narrative traditions of South Asia, including Indian film. "The Life of a Text," his 1991 book on the performance of the epic "Ramayana," 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 "monkey-god" Hanuman. The research appears in his book "Hanuman's Tale, The Messages of a Divine Monkey," published this year. His interests include epic performance traditions, folklore and popular culture and mass media. He maintains a website devoted to Indian popular cinema, a.k.a. "Bollywood" (Bombay plus Hollywood) at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lois Gray, 319-384-0077,