The thousand-year tradition of Persian literature has contributed many landmark works to the literary and cultural heritage of the world. This course will offer an in-depth examination of several of the most prominent of these works in English translation. We will read medieval masterpieces, such as Ferdowsi’s Epic of Kings and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Sufi writings of ‘Attar and Rumi, and modernist classics such as Sadeq Hedayat’s novel The Blind Owl and the poetry of Sepehri and Farrokhzad. These works will be examined both against the backdrop of their original cultural environment and in the larger comparative context of their translation and reception in the West. We will also consider what important texts and periods have not entered the canon of world literature and why. There will be several film viewings throughout the semester as we give consideration to the new Iranian cinema, Persia’s most recent contribution to global culture.
This course satisfies COAS Arts and Humanities and Cultural Studies distribution requiements.
Major requirements: Undergraduates—two short papers and final exam. Graduates—one short paper, one research paper, and final exam.