Liberal Studies Speakers Series

2018 Liberal Studies Distinguished Speaker -


The Department welcomes Dr. Philip Lutgendorf to campus Thursday, April 19th, 2018.

Lecture Title:  Chai Why?
The Making of the Indian "National Drink"
This illustrated talk details the promotion and spread of tea-drinking in 20th century India. Drawing on both archival and field research, it focuses on the mass popularization of “chai” through innovations in marketing and manufacturing, as well as changes in eating habits and social networks, and gives special emphasis to the role played by advertising and large and small-scale commerce in transmitting the “tea habit” to Indians, both before and after Independence in 1947.
Philip Lutgendorf is Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies and has taught in the University of Iowa’s Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature since 1985. His book on the performance of the Hindi Ramayana, The Life of a Text (1991) won the A. K. Coomaraswamy Prize of the Association for Asian Studies. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship for research on the popular Hindu deity Hanuman, which appeared as Hanuman’s Tale, The Messages of a Divine Monkey (2007). His interests include epic performance traditions, folklore and popular culture, and mass media. He maintains a website devoted to Hindi popular cinema, a.k.a. “Bollywood” ( ). His research on the cultural history of “chai” was supported by a Fulbright-Hays Senior Overseas Research Fellowship (2010-11). He is presently translating the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas, in seven dual-language volumes, for the Murty Classical Library of India ( ). He has served, since 2010, as President of the American Institute of Indian Studies ( ).  For more information click here.


Date:  Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Place:  Communications Facility, room 115

Time:  4:00 PM








Previous Distinguished Speakers


Professor Kathryn Lofton - April 2017

Professor of Religious Studies, American Studies, and History; Chair, Religious Studies; Deputy Dean for Diversity and Faculty Development, Yale University 

“Popular Religion in American Democracy”

Professor Fiona Somerset - April 2016 

Professor of English and Medieval Studies at the University of Connecticut

"Exacting Consent: Silent Consent and Public Voice from Chaucer to the Twenty-first Century"

Professor Robert Goldman - February 2015

Professor of Sanskrit in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley

"A Tale of Three Cities: Valmiki's Ramayana and the Foundations of the Culture, Society and Religion in Early India"

Professor Jessica Main - March 2014

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chair in Buddhism and Contemporary Society, Institute of Asian Research and Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia

"Buddhism and Human Rights: From 19th Century Reformers to Contemporary Advocates"

Professor Nile Green - April 2013

Professor of South Asian & Islamic History and Director for the Program on Central Asia, University of California, Los Angeles

"The Muslim Discovery of Printing: A Moment in Global History"

Professor Christian Novetzke - March 2012

Associate Professor of South Asia Studies and Comparative Religion, University of Washington

"Stretching Religion: Yoga in Philosophy, Temple Architecture, and Gandhi's India"

Professor Karin Bauer - Spring 2011

Professor of German Studies, McGill University

"Representations of Terrorism and Mass-Media"

Professor Timothy Brook - February 2010

Republic of China Chair, Department of History and Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia

"Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century: A China Connection?"

Professor David Nirenberg - February 2009

Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of Social Thought, Medieval History, Middle East Studies, and the College; Dean of the Social Sciences Division, University of Chicago

"Sibling Rivalries: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam"