Linda Hess | Curriculum Vitae

Department of Religious Studies
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-2165
Tel. 650-725-9732; Fax 650-725-1476


Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley, 1980
M.A. in Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley, 1974
B.A. in English with Great Distinction, Honors in Humanities, Stanford University, 1964


Senior Lecturer, Religious Studies, Stanford University, 2008-present
Lecturer, Religious Studies, Stanford University, 1996-2008
Co-Director, Center for South Asia, Stanford University, 2006-2009
Lecturer, Religious Studies, U.C. Davis, 1995-97
Assistant Professor, South and Southeast Asian Studies, U.C. Berkeley, 1986-94
Lecturer, Religious Studies, U.C. Davis, 1984-85
Visiting Asst. Professor, Religion, Dartmouth College
Visiting Asst. Professor, Religion, Barnard College, 1982-83
Teaching Assistant, Teaching Associate, Comparative Literature, U.C. Berkeley, 1970-74
Lecturer, Indian Studies, Calif. State University, Sonoma, 1973
Asian Literature Program, Asia Society, New York, 1966-69
Lecturer in English, Elphinstone College, Bombay, 1965-66

Academic Honors and Fellowships

Guggenheim Fellowship, 2011
Stanford Institute for International Studies, Hewlett Grant for research in India (short-term), 2005
American Institute of Indian Studies/National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellowship, 2002
Citation from Government of India for contribution to Hindi literary studies, International Hindi Conference, London 1999
American Academy of Religion Research Grant, 1995
American Institute of Indian Studies Summer Fellowship, 1995
University of California Humanities Research Fellowship, 1992
American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Fellowship, 1988-89
University of California President’s Research Fellowship in the Humanities, 1988-89
Fulbright Scholarship, 1988 (declined)
Fellow, Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College, 1985-86
Social Science Research Council grant, 1983
Smithsonian Institution grant to India, 1978
American Institute of Indian Studies Junior Research Fellowship, 1975
American Institute of Indian Studies Language Program Fellowship, 1973
Graduate and undergraduate scholarships, including 1978 Phi Beta Kappa fellowship at Berkeley
Fulbright scholarship to India, 1964-65
Phi Beta Kappa
Stanford B.A. with Great Distinction; Honors in Humanities


Forthcoming:  Bodies of Song:  Kabir Oral Traditions and Performative Worlds in Northern India.  From three publishers: Oxford University Press, New York; Permanent Black, New Delhi, India; in Hindi:  Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, India

Review of The Memory of Love: Sūrdās Sings to Krishna by John Stratton Hawley, in  The Journal of Asian Studies 70:3 (2011): 868-870.

Singing Emptiness: Kumar Gandharva Performs the Poetry of Kabir.  Calcutta: Seagull Books.  Distributed in the US by University of Chicago Press, 2009.

“Fighting Over Kabir’s Dead Body,” in From Ancient to Modern: Religion, Power, and Community in North India, ed. Ishita Banerjee and Saurabh Dube.  New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009.

“Ramlila: The Audience Experience,” in The Life of Hinduism, ed. John Stratton Hawley and Vasudha Narayanan.  Berkeley: University of California Press, forthcoming 2006 (Revised version of 1983c below.)

“Kabir in Song,” an introduction to Kabir oral traditions with translations and transliterations of 26 songs from the folk tradition of Malwa, Madhya Pradesh.  Created for use in the “Kabir in Song” U.S. tour, 2003. (See under Service, Special Projects …, Sept.-Nov. 2003.)

The Bijak of Kabir.  Translations by Linda Hess and Shukdev Singh, Essays and Notes by Linda Hess (new edition of 1983 book).  New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

“Lovers’ Doubts: Questioning the Tulsi Ramayana.” In Questioning Ramayanas: A South Asian Tradition.  Ed. Paula Richman.  Berkeley:  University of California Press, & New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000.

“Rejecting Sita: Indians Respond to the Ideal Man’s Cruel Treatment of His Ideal Wife.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 67:1 (1999): 1-32.

“Kabir in Translation,” Encyclopedia of Literary Translation, ed. Olive Classe.  London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999.

“The Ram Legend as Theatre,” in The Legend of Rama: Artistic Visions, ed. Vidya Dehejia.  Bombay: Marg Publications, 1994.

“Marshalling Sacred Texts: Ram’s Name and Story in Late Twentieth-Century Indian Politics.”  Journal of Vaisnava Studies 2:4 (1994): 175-206.

A Touch of Grace: Songs of Kabir. Translated with Shukdev Singh, introduction by Linda Hess.  Boston: Shambhala Books, 1994.

“Staring at Frames Till They Turn into Loops: An Excursion through Some Worlds of Tulsidas,”  in Living Banaras: Hindu Religion in Cultural Context, ed. C.A. Humes and B. Hertel.  Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

“The Poet, the People and the Western Scholar:  Influence of a Sacred Drama and Text on Social Values in North India.”  Theatre Journal, 40 (1988): 236-53.

“The Ramlila of Ramnagar: An Introduction and Day to Day Description.” 55 pp. booklet (written at the request of the Maharaja of Banaras for use by visitors to the annual 30-day Ramlila performance). 1988, rev. 1991.

“Kabir’s Rough Rhetoric,” in The Sants:  Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, ed.  Karine Schomer and W.H. McLeod.  Berkeley:  Religious Studies Series, and Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1987.

“Three Kabir Collections:  A Comparative Study,” The Sants:  Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India, ed.  Karine Schomer and W.H. McLeod.  Berkeley:  Religious Studies Series, and Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1987.

“Indian Religious Poetry,” in  Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 11, ed. Mircea Eliade.  New York: Macmillan, 1986.

“South Asian Islamic Poetry” (with Annemarie Schimmel), in Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 11, ed. Mircea Eliade.  New York: Macmillan, 1986.

“Kabir,” in Encyclopedia of South Asian History, ed. Ainslie Embree.  New York:  Columbia University Press, 1986.

The Bijak of Kabir.  Translations by Linda Hess and Shukdev Singh, Essays and Notes by Linda Hess.  San Francisco:  North Point Press, and Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1983.

“The Cow is Sucking at the Calf’s Teat:  Kabir’s Upside-Down Language,”  History of Religions 22 (1983): 313-37.

“Ramlila: The Audience Experience,” in Bhakti in Current Research, 1979 – 1982, ed. Monika Thiel-Horstmann.  Berlin:  Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1983.

“Selections from the Bijak of Kabir,” translated with Shukdev Singh.  Malahat Review No. 54 (1980): 77-89.

“The Ramlila of Ramnagar,” with Richard Schechner.  In The Drama Review 21 (1977): 51-82.

Selected Presentations

“How Singers Create Kabir in Central India.” American Academy of Religion annual meeting, Chicago, November 2012.

“When a Text is a Song: The Importance of Entering Kabir Oral Traditions.”  Invited lecture at India International Center, New Delhi, hosted by the Raza Foundation, September 2012.

“When a Text is a Song: Translating Kabir Oral Traditions in North India.”  Public lecture sponsored by Barnard College Center for Translation Studies and Department of Religion, April 2012..

“A Village Folk Singer Embodies Living Kabir Traditions in Madhya Pradesh.”  Invitational conference, “Approaching the Gods: Indian Religiosity and the Experience of the Divine,” sponsored by Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Religions and Program in South Asian Studies, February 2009.

Convenor, North American tour of Kabir music performance and documentary films, in collaboration with Indian Council of Cultural Relations, Government of India, March-May 2009.

“This Tambura is Going to London: Kabir’s Boat Sails from the Channels of Local Folk Tradition across Streams of Mass Media into the Sea of Global Flows.”  Invitational conference on performance in South Asia, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, March 2008.

“Kabir’s Songs of the Body.”  Invitational conference, “Yoga Traditions in North Indian Literature and Religion.”  El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City, September 2007.

“Kabir Says, Listen!—Bringing the Oral-Performative into Textual Studies in India.”  Invited by the Dept. of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, March 2006.

“Listening to Kabir:  A Saga of Religious Transmission in India and Beyond,” April 2005.

The Goodspeed Endowed Lectureship in Philosophy and Religion at Denison University, Granville, Ohio.

“The Goddess in India,” public lecture, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, October 2004.

“Political Kabir Meets Religious Kabir in Madhya Pradesh,” Lecture at Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi, September 2004.

“Political/Spiritual Kabir.”  Paper presented at American Academy of Religion annual meeting, Atlanta, November 2003.

“True Words of Kabir: Bringing Together Oral, Written, and Multimedia Traditions.”  Paper presented at annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 2003.

“America Janewale Kabir” (“Kabir Goes to America”).  Lecture in Hindi at Hindi Sahitya Samiti, Indore, co-sponsored by Kabir Jan Vikas Samuh, September 2003.

“Oral Kabir, Written Kabir.”  Lecture at Sahitya Akademi (national literary academy), New Delhi, co-sponsored by Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, April 2002.

“Wendy Doniger: A Retrospective.”  Paper presented at American Academy of Religion annual meeting, November 2000.

“’Kabir Says…’: 600 Years of Voices.”  Invitational conference hosted by the Sahitya Akademy (India’s national academy of letters), Varanasi, India, December 1999.

“Introduction to Sikhism,” public lecture, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, September 1999.

“Kabir Goes Global.”  Invitational conference:  The 600th Anniversary of Kabir’s Birth.  South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany, June 1999.

“Oral Tradition Goes Global: ‘Kabir Says,’ from Sadhus to CDs to the Minnesota Symphony.”  Religion in South Asia Section, annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, November 1998.

“Rejecting Sita: Indians Respond to the Ideal Man’s Cruel Treatment of His Ideal Wife.”  Paper presented at annual South Asia Conference, Madison, WI, October 1998.

Invited presenter at Columbia University’s “Sita Symposium,” May 1998.

Lecturer at NEH summer institute for secondary teachers on “The Ramayana and Indian Culture,” Syracuse University, July 1997.

“The Space of a Poem: What Happens When You Sing Kabir?”  Invited lecture at University of Pennsylvania South Asia Seminar, January 1996.

“After Dec. 6, 1992:  How Indian Intellectuals are Looking at Secularism.”  Panel on “Religion and Secularism in India,” annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Philadelphia, November 1995.

Lectures on Indian literature in NEH Institute for elementary and secondary school teachers, Casper, Wyoming, June-July 1995.

Invited lectures at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, April 1005 (see October 1994).

“God Stays Here for a Month: The Ramlila of Ramnagar,” and “Marshalling Sacred Texts: The Ramayana in Late Twentieth-Century Indian Politics”–two invited lectures at Bard College, Annandale, New York, October 1994.

“Living the Ramayana in Banaras: Ramlila Performance and its Meanings.”  Full-day presentation at NEH summer institute for high school teachers, Syracuse University, July 1994.

“Lovers’ Doubts: A Way of Questioning the Tulsi Ramayana.”  Panel on “Questioning the Ramayana” at annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Los Angeles, California, April 1993.

University of Wisconsin South Asia Proseminar in Culture, Gender, and Religion: one-week residency with three public lectures on Ramlila performance, February 1993.

“I Swear to Rid the Earth of Demons: The Tulsi Ramayana and Ram Bhakti in the Ram-janma-bhumi Movement.”  American Academy of Religion, Kansas City, November 1991.

“Every Living Being Was Once Your Mother: Interconnectedness and Nonviolence in Indian Religions.”   Invited lecture in public series sponsored by Peace and Conflict Studies, U.C. Berkeley, September 1991.

“Uses of the Ramayana in Twentieth-Century Indian Political Movements.”  Invitational conference on bhakti and society, El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City, May 1991.

“The Mahabharata on Indian Television.”  Invitational conference on Modern Popular / Performative Contexts for the Mahabharata.   Southern Asia Institute, Columbia University, October 1989.

“Research on Tulsidas,” All India Radio interview (in Hindi), New Delhi, July 1989.

“Women and the Ramayana” (in Hindi).   Lecture at Women’s College of Banaras Hindu University, India, January 1989.

“Research on Ramayana and Ramlila” (in Hindi).    Fourth International Ramayana Sammelan, Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, December 1988.

“The Poet, the People, and the Western Scholar: Values in the Tulsi Ramayana.”  Invitational conference: Reconceptualizing the Individual in South Asian Culture and Society, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, U.C., Santa Barbara, May 1988.

“Religion and Politics in the History of the Ramlila of Ramnagar.”  Association for Asian Studies annual meeting, San Francisco, March 1988.

“From Text to Performance: How the Ramnagar Ramlila Was Created.”  Conference on Modern Ramayana Traditions, Friedrich-Wilhelms Universitat, Bonn, Germany, September 1987.

Service, Special Projects, Professional Memberships

Convenor of project on developing curriculum in Peace/Violence/Nonviolence Studies at Stanford, 2012-14

Organizer of and participant in two-month tour of Kabir documentary films by Shabnam Virmani and Kabir singers, with screenings and performances in about 25 universities in the US and Canada.  Co-sponsored by Indian Council of Cultural Relations (Government of India), March-May 2009.

Faculty leader, Stanford Overseas Seminar, “Gandhi and his Legacy in India, the US, and the World,” Aug-Sept. 2008.  Co-leading a group of 16 students to India with M.L. King expert, Prof. Clayborne Carson.

Member, Board of Trustees, American Institute of Indian Studies, 2006-09

Faculty leader, Stanford Alumni Study-Travel trips to India, November 2007, December 2008, November 2013.

Associate Director, Pan-Asian Music Festival, Stanford University, February 2006.

Faculty advisor, Hindu Student Association at Stanford.

Organizer of and participant in “Kabir in Song,” a two-month tour of Kabir singers in the U.S., with more than 30 performances in eight states, co-sponsored by Indian Council for Cultural Relations and many U.S. universities, September-November 2003.

Member, American Academy of Religion

Elected member of Steering Committee, Religion in South Asia Section of the American Academy of Religion, 2004-07.

Elected national co-chair, Religion in South Asia Section of the American Academy of Religion, 2004-07; declined.

Elected and served as Chair, Religion in South Asia Section of the American Academy of Religion, 1992-95.

Member, Association of Asian Studies

Organizer of three conferences under the Evans-Wentz Lectureship in Asian Philosophy, Religion, and Ethics at Stanford University:

“Early Indian Religions: Interactions,” October 1999.

“Krishna in Springtime,” an academic symposium and Odissi dance performance, May 2005.

“Sufi Music: South Asian Qawwali and Debates on Music in Islam,” February 2006.

Organizer of lecture series, “Religious Identities and Communities in Modern South Asia,” Stanford University, spring 2000.

Coordinator of South Asia Initiative Public Events, Stanford University, 1999-2001

Courses Taught

(* indicates prior to Stanford)

Courses on South Asian religion and culture:  Hinduism; Religions of India; Gandhi and Nonviolence; Religion and Music in South Asia;, Caste, Religion and Dalit Liberation in India; Ramayana Traditions; The Mahabharata Epic; Hindus and Muslims in South Asia; Goddesses and Gender in Hinduism; Indian Religious Poetry; Religious Classics of South Asia; Religious Identity, Community, and Conflict in Modern South Asia; *Introduction to the Civilization of India; *Great Books of India.

Comparative/cross-cultural courses: Religious Perspectives on Violence and Nonviolence, War and Peace; Gandhi and His Legacy: Violence/Nonviolence in the World and In Ourselves; War in Film: Psycho-spiritual Dimensions of Violence; Introduction to Humanities; Introduction to Religion; Religion and Performance; Religious Ritual;  *Myth, Ritual, and Symbol; *Pilgrimage; *Mysticism; *Religious Drama; *Major Topics in the Study of Religion;  *Introduction to Eastern Religions.

Graduate seminars: *Textwork/Fieldwork in South Asia;  *The Lives and Uses of South Asian Texts;  *Issues of Representation in South Asian Studies.

Language teaching: *advanced Hindi; *introductory French.