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Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty (New York, November 20, 1940) is an American indologist.
Since 1978, he has worked at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, and has been a “distinguished service professor”; he also works in the Department of Languages and Civilizations of South Asia, and in the Committee of Social Thought.
Much of his work focuses on translating, interpreting and comparing elements of Hindu mythology through the modern contexts of gender, sexuality and identity. She describes herself as “a Sanskritist, or even a recovering Orientalist” and “an outmoded philologist.”
Doniger was born in New York City to non-observant Jewish immigrant parents, and grew up in Great Neck, New York, where his father, Lester L. Doniger (1909-1971), had a publishing business. While in high school, she studied dance with Martha Graham and George Balanchine. In 1962 he graduated summa cum laude in Sanskrit and Indian studies at Radcliffe College, and in June 1963 he received his master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Between 1963 and 1964 he studied twelve months in India with a junior scholarship from the American Institute of Indian Studies. In June of 1968 he obtained his first doctorate from Harvard University, with a dissertation on “Asceticism and Sexuality in the Mythology of Shiva” (“Asceticism and Sexuality in the Mythology of Sivá”), directed by Daniel HH Ingalls (father ). In February 1973 he obtained his second doctorate in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford, with a dissertation on “The origins of heresy in Hindu mythology” (“The origins of heresy in Hindu mythology”), under the direction of RC Zaehner . Since then, she has been awarded with six honorary doctorates.
At the University of Chicago, Doniger is a distinguished professor of service in the “Mircea Eliade” chair in the History of Religions. Since 1979 he has been part of the editorial board of the history of religions. He has edited a dozen publications by other authors. In 1984 she was elected president of the American Academy of Religion, and in 1997 president of the Asian Studies Association. He is a member of the International Editorial Board of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
In June 2000, she was awarded the PEN Oakland / Josephine Miles Literary Award for Excellence in Multicultural Literature, No Fiction, for her book Splitting the difference (‘divide the difference’). In October 2002 she received the Mary Rose Crawshay Award from the British Academy, for the best book of English literature written by a woman, for her book for The Bedtrick (‘The Trick in Bed’). The American Academy of Religion awarded her the 2008 Martin E. Marty Award for collaborating in the public understanding of religion, and was invited to give the 2010 President’s Conference of the Art Institute of Chicago, at the Chicago Humanities Festival, which it was entitled “The lingam became flesh: two separate levels in Hindu artistic symbolism.”
He has been responsible for more than 100 PhD students, including David Gordon White, Jeffrey Kripal, David Dean Shulman and Laurie Patton.
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