Faculty Publications

Four faculty members receive Guggenheim fellowships

This article originally appeared in UChicago News on April 16, 2018.


Four UChicago faculty members and a visiting faculty member have won John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowships: Alain Bresson, the Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor in Classics; Lenore A. Grenoble, the John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor in Linguistics; Srikanth Reddy, associate professor in the Department of English Language and Literature; and David Schutter, associate professor in the Department of Visual Arts. Annie Dorsen, visiting assistant professor of practice in the Committee on Theater and Performance Studies, also was honored.

Chosen from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants, the four UChicago faculty are among 173 Guggenheim Fellowship winners who will receive financial support to pursue a variety of projects, from endangered languages to the invention of money.

A scholar of the ancient economy, Bresson is the author of “The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy,” which won the 2017 James Henry Breasted Prize from the American Historical Association.

Bresson will use his Guggenheim prize, which he said came to him “as a wonderful surprise,” to work on a new book about the specific form taken by money in the ancient Greek world, with a central focus on the question of why the ancient Greeks “invented” coinage.

“The Greeks and the Lydians are famous for having invented a new means of payment, an instrument that we still have in our pockets in our daily life: coinage,” Bresson said. “But a frequent confusion is the idea that the Greeks invented money. Of course they did not. Their contribution was to give to money a political form. I have explored these questions in almost twenty articles which, hopefully, will constitute the foundation for the book I plan to write.”

Grenoble has been studying language endangerment for the last 20 years, specializing in Slavic and Arctic Indigenous languages. In 2017, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Kali Charan Bahl, a pioneer in South Asian scholarship, 1917-2018

Associate Professor Emeritus Kali Charan Bahl, a world-renowned linguistics and literature South Asian scholar, passed away at the end of March. In 1967, he joined the University of Chicago faculty in the Departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Linguistics, receiving tenure in 1973 and retiring in 1994. 

A prolific author who wrote several books and made pioneering contributions to the study of both South Asian linguistics and literature, Bahl also contributed to the study of several South Asian languages. Upon retirement, he generously donated a large portion of his personal collection of books and documents to the Regenstein Library’s South Asia Collection, benefiting current and future scholars.

Bahl is representative of the rigorous linguistic study and expertise that has always undergirded the scholarly program of these departments. Joining the department at its inception, his research and pedagogical innovations set the foundation for the study of Hindi at the University of Chicago, even while Bahl continued to contribute to the scholarship on the Punjabi, Rajasthani, and Munda languages.

After receiving his master’s degree in Hindi from Panjab University and a master’s degree in linguistics from Yale University, Bahl completed his PhD in Hindi and Linguistics from Panjab University in 1965. By the time that he retired in 1994, Bahl had built a robust language program at the University of Chicago, teaching Hindi at all levels and offering special seminars on Hindi grammar.

His research ranged widely from linguistics to literature, from religious studies to folklore, and from Punjabi in western India to Korwa in eastern India. In the 1960s, Bahl contributed to Norman Zide’s Munda Language Project, researching Korwa, a Munda language of the Korwa people in northeastern India.

He wrote extensively about Hindi, Rajasthani, and Punjabi, including studies of their language structure, multi-volume reference dictionaries, and grammar guides. Bahl’s work on Indian folklore and literature compared the oral and vernacular sources for intertwined figures of Radha and Krishna in the bhakti poetic imaginary.

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