How awesome that the Dude has spawned a series of academic papers. There's even a new book coming out on the subject, The Year's Work in Lebowski Studies. While it would seem that most academics would gravitate to Barton Fink as a favored Coen brothers character, they have chosen the Dude as book-worthy.
In one essay Fred Ashe — he is an associate professor of English at
Birmingham-Southern College — profitably compares the Dude to Rip van
Winkle, for both his “friendly charisma” and what Washington Irving
described as Rip’s “insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable
labor.” Both men, Mr. Ashe notes, expose “the sickness of a straight
society premised on the Puritan work ethic.”
While this book looks fascinating, I would much rather drink a white Russian and go to the Lebowskifest.