Doniger, Wendy 1940–

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Doniger, Wendy 1940–

(Wendy O'Flaherty Doniger)

PERSONAL: Born November 20, 1940, in New York, NY; daughter of Lester L. and Rita Doniger; married Dennis M. O'Flaherty, 1964; children: Michael Lester. Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1962, Ph.D., 1968; Oxford University, D.Phil., 1973.

ADDRESSES: Home—Chicago, IL. Office—Divinity School, University of Chicago, 1025 E. 58th St., Chicago, IL, 60637-1509. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, former lecturer; University of London, London School of Oriental and African Studies, London, England, lecturer, 1968–75; University of California, Berkeley, visiting lecturer, 1975–77; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, professor, 1978–85, Mircea Eliade Professor of the History of Religions, 1986–. University of London, London School of Oriental and African Studies, Jordan Lecturer in Comparative Religion, 1996–97.

MEMBER: American Academy of Religion (president, 1984), American Society for the Study of Religion, American Oriental Society, Association for Asian Studies (president, 1998), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (fellow), American Philosophical Society (fellow), Society for Arts, Religion, and Culture (fellow), Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Medal, Collège de France.

WRITINGS:

Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Shiva, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1973, published as Shiva, the Erotic Ascetic, 1981.

The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1976.

Women, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1980.

Elephanta, the Cave of Shiva, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1983.

Dreams, Illusions, and Other Realities, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1984.

Tales of Sex and Violence, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1985.

Other People's Myths: The Cave of Echoes, Collier Macmillan (London, England), 1988, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1995.

(With George Mitchell) Animals in the Four Worlds, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1989.

The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Splitting the Difference: Gender and Myth in Ancient Greece and India, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1999.

The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2000.

The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to books, including introduction to Hindu Myths: A Sourcebook, Penguin (New York, NY), 1975.

EDITOR

(With J. Duncan M. Derrett) The Concept of Duty in South Asia, Vikas Publishing House (New Delhi, India), 1978.

The Critical Study of Sacred Texts, Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, CA), 1979.

Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Tradition, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1980.

(And translator) Textual Sources for the Study of Hinduism, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1990.

Purana Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1993.

(With Howard Eilberg-Schwartz) Off With Her Head! The Denial of Women's Identity in Myth, Religion, and Culture, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1995.

(With Laurie L. Patton) Myth and Method, University Press of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), 1996.

Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions, Merriam-Webster (Springfield, MA), 1999.

TRANSLATOR

The Rig Veda: An Anthology, Penguin (New York, NY), 1981.

(With David Grene) The Oresteia, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1989.

Yves Bonnefy, compiler, Mythologies, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1991.

(With Sudhir Kakar) Kamasutra, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS: Ever interested and intrigued by the study and significance of world mythologies, Wendy Doniger is the author of Other People's Myths: The Cave of Echoes, a study of comparative religion. Harvey Cox, a reviewer in Christian Century, called the work "readable and richly informative." Cox cited Doniger for her ability to "skillfully compare the unfamiliar with the familiar" in the "rich rereading and close analysis of the Mahabharata, the stories of Daksha and Shiva, of Pentheus and Dionysus and of Jesus."

In 1991 Doniger translated from French Mythologies, a collection of 395 articles compiled by Yves Bonnefy. C. Robert Nixon in Library Journal called the work an "unique contribution to the study of mythology" as well as "fascinatingly original." Mark C. Taylor in the New York Times Book Review commented that Doniger's "rearrangement of the articles indicates caution about insights generated by arbitrary juxtapositions and preference for analyses that respect cultural integrity and historical continuity." Doniger preferred to "arrange" the English translation article by "geographical region and cultural tradition" rather than alphabetically.

In 1993 Doniger was invited to give the first J. Gonda Lecture in Amsterdam in honor of the late Professor J. Gonda, a Sankritist and indologist. Titled "Masquerading Mothers and False Fathers in Ancient Indian Mythology," the lecture was an examination of the history of the old Indian myth of the masquerading parents and its link with the Indian epic myth, Mahabharata.

As an editor, Doniger provided "supportive guidance" in the introduction to Purana Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts, according to Guy L. Beck, a reviewer in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Beck felt the book would be "rewarding to students interested in the broad spectrum of cross-cultural textual production." "Cross-cultural" is a key term in Doniger's perspective on ancient texts. Beck called Purana Perennis "a remarkable achievement," by which "textual and cultural intersections within Hinduism, and between Hinduism and Jainism, receive a fresh examination." In the Journal of Asian Studies, Alf Hiltebeitel stated that the book "addresses three … crosscutting issues: orality, history, and bhakti."

Lecturing at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, 1996–97, Doniger showcased her "specialty of gender and myth" in lectures that were "intriguing," according to L.L. Lam-Easton, a reviewer in Choice. The collected lectures were titled Splitting the Difference: Gender and Myth in Ancient Greece and India. Julia Burch, a reviewer in Library Journal, called the book "perceptive and compelling" as well as "well written and engaging."

Employed as a consulting editor, Doniger worked on Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. According to Booklist, the "thirty in-depth essays provide expanded coverage of major world religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Tribal, primal, and ancient religions are also detailed." Glenn Norio Masuchika in Library Journal called the work a "marvelous one-volume, easy-to-lift-with-one-hand, desktop encyclopedia on world religions." Jasper Griffin, a reviewer in the New York Review of Books, called Splitting the Difference a "fascinating book, full of bizarre tales of men and women, gods and goddesses." Griffin commented that Doniger's stories are "bracing to read" and "energetically written."

Griffin commented that "it is a leading concern" of both Splitting the Difference and The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth, "to use the myths in order to recover from them other voices." Lam-Easton in Choice recommended The Implied Spider for "students and scholars." Leo D. Lefebure, a reviewer in Christian Century, cited Doniger for "tak[ing] up the challenge of defending the project of comparative mythology." He also stated that the "implied spider" of the title is "our shared humanity, the experiences that furnish material to myth makers and comparative scholars alike." Lefebure commented that "Dr. Doniger proposes that we start inductively from the bottom and move up, not arguing that any given myth is universal, but looking for continuities in narrative details in and through the constant variations." Leo Vincent Cruz in Library Journal called The Implied Spider a "detailed, scholarly account."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 1999, review of Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions, p. 799.

Christian Century, December 20-27, 1989, Harvey Cox, review of Other People's Myths: The Cave of Echoes, p. 1205; February 3, 1999, Leo D. Lefebure, review of The Implied Spider, p. 141.

Choice, September, 1998, L.L. Lam-Easton, review of The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth, p. 146; November, 1999, L.L. Lam-Easton, review of Splitting the Difference: Gender and Myth in Ancient Greece and India, p. 554.

Journal of Asian Studies, May, 1994, Alf Hiltebeitel, review of Purana Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts, pp. 587-589.

Journal of the American Academy of Religion, winter 1996, Guy L. Beck, review of Purana Perennis, pp. 866-867.

Library Journal, April 1, 1991, C. Robert Nixon, review of Mythologies, p. 124; May 15, 1998, Leo Vincent Kriz, review of The Implied Spider, p. 91; July, 1999, Julia Burch, review of Splitting the Difference, p. 27; December, 1999, Glen Norio Masuschika, review of Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions, p. 110.

London Review of Books, March 7, 1996, Zoe Heller, "Hairpiece," p. 19.

New York Review of Books, November 4, 1999, Jasper Griffin, "The Myth of Myths," pp. 39-42.

New York Times Book Review, May 12, 1991, Mark C. Taylor, "In the Beginning Was Belief," p. 37.

U.S. News and World Report, July 15, 1991, Alvin P. Sanoff, "The Richness of Mythology," p. 49.