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Philip Lutgendorf will give the lecture, "The Persistence of the Mythological in Indian Popular Cinema," Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.

The lecture, which is open to the public without charge, is the first in the 2006-07 International Focus Year series, "Meditating Myths: Indian Gods in Modern Times."

According to Karline McLain, assistant professor of religion at Bucknell and series coordinator, Indian cinema often uses themes and narrative strategies that often appear to depict ancient traditions of epic storytelling rather than Western-style "linear" plots.

"Lutgendorf's talk will examine the role of myth and epic in the history of Indian cinema and their continuing influence on contemporary films," said McLain. "He will discuss the history of subgenre 'mythological' films and will examine several ostensibly 'secular' films that show a preoccupation with the epic motif of a romance between an urban king and a forest-dwelling maiden, presented as a charter myth for the foundation of a new societal order."

Lutgendorf is professor of Hindi and modern Indian studies and chair of the department of Asian languages and literature at the University of Iowa. He teaches Hindi language classes and courses on the written and oral narrative traditions of South Asia and he has interests in South Asian epic performance traditions, folklore and popular culture, and mass media. 

His books include The life of a Text: Performing the Ramcaritmanas of Tulsidas, which won the A.K. Coomaraswamy Prize of the Association for Asian Studies, and Hanuman's Tale, The Messages of a Divine Monkey.

"The four speakers in this series are among the leading scholars of media, religion and culture in South Asian," said McLain. "Together they will explore the relationship between media and myth in modern India."

Other speakers in this series are: Kathryn Hansen, "A Hindu 'Mythological' in the Parsi Theatre: Betab's Mahabharat," Oct. 26; Paula Richman, "Dilemmas of Womanhood: Recent South Indian Short Stories Based on the Ramayana," Nov. 13; and Rachel Dwyer, Screen Goddesses: Shakti, Sati, Naginas and Other Female Deities in Indian Cinema," April 10, 2007.

For more information about the series, see

Posted Sept. 19, 2006


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