Stuart H. Blackburn , the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant and a Fulbright fellowship, has done extensive fieldwork on the performance traditions of South India. His book Singing of Birth and Death: Texts in Performance (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989) analyzed a ritual song tradition in southern Tamilnadu. He recently edited Another Harmony: New Essays on the Folklore of India , with A. K. Ramanujan (University of California Press, 1986), and Oral Epics of India , with Peter Claus, Joyce Flueckiger, and Susan S. Wadley (University of California Press, 1989). Blackburn is currently completing a book on the Kerala shadow puppet performance of the Ramayana .
Kathleen M. Erndl , Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Lewis and Clark College, has done research on goddess traditions of Northwest India. Recent publications include "Rapist or Bodyguard, Demon or Devotee? Images of Bhairo in the Mythology and Cult of Vaisno Devi" in Criminal Gods and Demon Devotees , edited by Alf Hiltebeitel (SUNY Press, 1989), "Fire and Wakefulness: The Devi Jagrata in Contemporary Panjabi Hinduism," Journal of the American Academy of Religion (1991), and Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual, and Symbol (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Her current research focuses on the religious life of Hindu women in Kangra, India.
Ramdas Lamb , Associate Professor of Religion at the University of Hawaii, has studied contemporary Hindu devotionalism and religious practice for the past twenty years, having spent nearly half this period doing fieldwork in North and Central India. At present he is preparing his dissertation, "Ramnamis, Ramnam , and the Role of the Low Caste in the Ram Bhakti Tradition"
(University of California, Santa Barbara), for publication. It looks at the history of Ram bhakti and focuses on the Ramnami Samaj in Madhya Pradesh, India.
Philip Lutgendorf , Associate Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies at the University of Iowa, has researched North Indian oral performance traditions that utilize the Hindi Ramayana . His publications on the subject include "The View from the Ghats: Traditional Exegesis of a Hindu Epic" in the Journal of Asian Studies (1989), "Ram's Story in Shiva's City: Public Arenas and Private Patronage" in Culture and Power in Banaras: Community, Performance, and Environment, 1800-1980 (University of California Press, 1989), edited by Sandria Freitag, "Ramayan: The Video" in The Drama Review (Summer 1990), and The Life of a Text: Performing the Ramcaritmanas of Tulsidas (University of California Press, 1991). He is currently working on a study of the cult of Hanuman.
Patricia Y. Mumme , Assistant Professor of Religion at Denison University, has focused on the Srivaisnava theological tradition of medieval Tamilnadu. Her publications include The Mumuksuppati of Pillai Lokacarya with Manavalamamuni's Commentary (Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute, 1987), "Grace and Karma in Nammalvar's Salvation," in the Journal of the American Oriental Society (1987), and The Srivaisnava Theological Dispute: Manavalamamuni and Vedanta Desika (New Era Publications, 1988). At present she is completing a translation of the Parantarahasya of Periyavaccan Pillai.
Velcheru Narayana Rao , an expert in the area of Telugu literature, is Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His scholarly interests in Telugu texts and folklore have led to numerous publications in fields as diverse as medieval devotional Saivite poetry, modern novels and poetry, folk epics, proverbs and riddles, and classical grammar. His many translations from Telugu to English include, most recently, For the Lord of the Animals , with Hank Heifetz (University of California Press, 1987), and Siva's Warriors: The Basava Purana of Palkuriki Somanatha , with Gene Roghair (Princeton University Press, 1990). His latest book, with David Shulman and San-jay Subrahmanyam, is Symbols of Substance: Court and State in Nayaka-Period South India (Oxford University Press, 1991).
A. K. Ramanujan , scholar and poet as well as recent recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, is William E. Colvin Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, the Committee on Social Thought, and the Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago. In addition to a large number of articles in the fields of South Asian linguistics, Tamil anti Kannada literature, and folklore, Ramanujan has published prizewinning
volumes of his own poetry. He is also widely known for a series of translations, most recently Hymns for the Drowning: Poems for Visnu by Nammalvar (Princeton University Press, 1981) and Poems of Love and War from the Eight Anthologies and the Ten Songs of Classical Tamil (Columbia University Press, 1985). He and Vinay Dharwadkher have just finished editing An Anthology of Modem Indian Poetry (Oxford University Press-Madras, forthcoming). Among Ramanujan's many current projects is a translation of women's oral tales from Kannada.
Frank E. Reynolds , Professor of History of Religions and Buddhist Studies in the Divinity School and the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, is a specialist in Thai Buddhism within the context of Theravada Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia. He has published widely in the fields of Buddhism, South and Southeast Asian studies, and methodology and comparison in the history of religions. Some of his most influential recent books are his monograph Three Worlds According to King Ruang: A That Cosmology , translated with Mani Reynolds (Asian Humanities Press, 1982), Cosmogony and the Ethical Order: New Studies in Comparative Ethics , edited with Robin Lovin (University of Chicago Press, 1985), and Myth and Philosophy , edited with David Tracy (SUNY Press, 1990).
Paula Richman , Associate Professor of South Asian Religions at Oberlin College, has focused on rhetorical strategies in Tamil religious texts. Among her publications are Gender and Religion: On the Complexity of Symbols , coedited with Caroline Bynum and Stevan Harrell (Beacon Press, 1986), Women, Branch Stories, and Religious Rhetoric in a Tamil Buddhist Text (Maxwell School, Syracuse University, 1988), and "Gender and Persuasion: Beauty, Anguish, and Nurturance in the Account of a Tamil Nun," in Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender , edited by Jose Cabezon (SUNY Press, 1991). Her current projects include a study of Tamil devotional poems called pillaittamil and a monograph on the political uses of the Ramayana in Madras from 1878 to 1973.
Clinton Seely , Associate Professor of Bengali at the University of Chicago, has written several articles on Michael Madhusudan Dutt, as well as pieces on Jibanananda Das and Rabindranath Tagore. Recent books include, in addition to two Bengali language textbooks, Grace and Mercy in Her Wild Hair: Selected Poems to the Mother Goddess , translated with Leonard Nathan (Great Eastern Book Co., 1982), A Poet Apart: A Literary Biography of the Bengali Poet Jibanananda Das (1899-1954 ) (University of Delaware Press, 1990), and an edited volume titled Women, Politics, and Literature in Bengal (Asian Studies Center, Michigan State University, 1981). At present Seely is working on a translation of Meghanadavadha Kavya .
David Shulman , MacArthur Fellow and Professor in the Department of Indian, Iranian, and Armenian Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is well known for his writings in the fields of Tamil, Sanskrit, and Telugu literature, religion, and folklore. In addition to numerous articles in these fields, Shulman has published The King and the Clown in South Indian Myth and Poetry (Princeton University Press, 1985), Songs of the Harsh Devotee: The Tevaram of Cuntaramurttinayanar (South Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 1990), and Symbols of Substance: Court and State in Nayaka-Period South India , with V. Narayana Rao and Sanjay Subrahmanyam (Oxford University Press, 1991). Among many other projects, Shulman is currently working on a literary and cultural-historical study of the fifteenth-century Telugu poet Srinatha and a monograph on medieval Tamil poetic theory.