NMC 2200Y INTRODUCTORY PERSIAN (=NML 260Y)
A member of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European linguistic family, Persian (Farsi) is today the official language of Iran and Tajikistan, and one of the two official languages of Afghanistan (where it is called Dari). The goal of the course is the rapid mastery of the fundamentals of Persian script and grammar, and the attainment of fluency in reading, writing and speaking Persian at the elementary level. The course also serves as a basis for the classical language.
NMC 2201Y INTERMEDIATE PERSIAN (=NML 360Y)
The course involves reading, grammatical analysis, and translation of representative samples of contemporary and classical Persian prose and poetry of intermediate difficulty. Reading materials are selected from a wide range of sources in order to ensure balanced, yet comprehensive, exposure to the different usages of the language.
NMC 2220Y CLASSICAL PERSIAN LITERATURE (= NML 460Y)
Survey of classical Persian literature from the rise of the New Persian literary language in the 10th century to the 15th century, based on selected readings from representative authors. Since poetry predominates in mediaeval Persian literary production, most of the course will be given over to the study of such poets as Rudaki, Firdausi (Shah-nameh), Khaqani, Nizami, Sa‘di, Rumi, Hafiz, and Jami. Students will be introduced to the Arabo-Persian prosodial system and Persian rhetorics. Interspersed throughout the course will be readings from Persian prose works relating to mediaeval literary criticism and the biographies of poets, such as Nizami Aruzi’s Chahar maqaleh and Daulatshah’s Tazkirat al-shu ‘ara.
NMC 2221H MEDIEVAL PERSIAN ETHICAL AND ADVICE LITERATURE
The course surveys the mediaeval Persian literature of advice on statecraft and adminstration, as well as the Persian works on ethics (akhlaq) and proper conduct (adab), which have their roots in ancient Persian wisdom literature and the genre of andarz (advice). Ethical and advice literature constitutes an important source for understanding mediaeval Islamic conceptions of political and social organization. The Indo-Iranian and Arabic backgrounds to this literature will be examined, and the historical contexts in which individual works were written will be analyzed. Readings in Persian include selected passages from the Qabus-nameh of Kay Ka’us, the Siyasat-nameh of Nizam al-Mulk, the Akhlaq-i Nasiri of Nasir al-Din Tusi, the Akhlaq-i Muhsini of Husain Va‘iz Kashifi, and the Suluk al-muluk of Khunji. The Persian treatises on Sufi ethics that relate to the notion of spiritual chivalry (futuvvat) in the mediaeval craft guilds, such as Kashifi’s Futuvvat-nameh-i Sultani, will also be discussed.
NMC 2222H PERSIAN MYSTICAL POETRY
An introduction to the poetic imagery and symbolism of Persian Sufism, with selected readings from the great mystical poets of the 11th–15th centuries, such as Sana’i, ‘Attar, Rumi, and Jami. Alternatively, and depending upon the interests of students, the seminar may focus on one particular author. Besides readings from the Persian texts, the works of Henry Corbin, Helmut Ritter, and Annemarie Schimmel on the interpretation of Sufi theosophical doctrines and the poetics of Sufism will also be discussed.
NMC 2223H THE MASNAVI OF RUMI
Critical reading and analysis of selected passages from the Masnavi-i ma‘navi of Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273), arguably the greatest Islamic mystical poet, whose masterwork achieved near-canonical status in the mediaeval Persianate world as “the Qur’an in Persian.” Texts will be discussed in the context of Islamic theosophical doctrines, the hermeneutics of esoteric Qur’an commentary, and the poetics of Sufism. Although all readings are in the original Persian, students of comparative religion and/or mysticism with no knowledege of the language may benefit from the course by utilizing the English translation, preparing the assigned secondary readings, and taking part in seminar discussions. All readings will be based on the edition and annotated translation by R. A. Nicholson.
Not offered 2009-10
NMC 2224H PERSIAN MYTHS, ISLAMIC LEGENDS, AND MYSTICAL ALLEGORIES
The course examines the ways in which ancient Persian myths and mythological motifs drawn from Zoroastrian cosmology and Iranian epic history were utilized allegorically by such Perso-Islamic philosophers, theosophers, and poets as Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Suhravardi (Shaikh al-Ishraq), and 'Attar in order to illustrate Islamic theosophical and mystical concepts. The course includes a discussion of tales from the Persian Book of Kings (Shahnama), Qur’anic legends (qisas al-anbiya’), Islamic cosmological doctrines, and Sufism. The main readings will be from the Persian treatises of Suhravardi, hence an adequate knowledge of classical Persian is required. However, students with a background in Arabic and/or Islamic mysticism are encouraged to take the course, as the readings are available in a parallel Persian-English edition: Suhrawardi. The Philosophical Allegories and Mystical Treatises. Ed. and trans. W. M. Thackston. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 1999.
NMC 2226H MEDIEVAL PERSIAN HISTORICAL AND DOCUMENTARY SOURCES
Introduction to Persian historiography and diplomatics. Students will study selected readings from medieval Persian histories and chronicles from the 10th–17th centuries. The course will also survey the forms of diplomatic and chancery correspondence, and the basic types of legal documents encountered in historical research on medieval Iran and Central Asia.
NMC 2227H TOPICS ON ZOROASTRIAN COSMOLOGY
The course surveys the history of the Zoroastrian religion from antiquity to the modern times, with a particular attention to the pre-Islamic Iranian history. The main focus of the course are the cosmological doctrines attested in the Zoroastrian texts in Avestan and Middle Persian. The position of these doctrines in the system of beliefs and practices of the Zoroastrian religion is highlighted, as well as the points in common of cosmological doctrines of Zoroastrianism and of other Iranian and Near Eastern religions.
NMC 2228H ZOROASTRIAN APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE
The course studies the Zoroastrian apocalyptic texts that we have received. These texts (composed in the 9th-10th century AD, based on texts written in the Sassanian times, 3rd-7th cent. AD) present divine beings disclosing to human recipients the future developments of history, and the structure of the netherworld. The course also discusses whether apocalyptic texts were produced by Zoroastrians before the Sassanian times, thus constituting a possible source of Judaic apocalypticism.
NMC 2525H PAINTING IN LATE MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN IRAN AND BEYOND
In this course, the evidence for a fresh start in painting in Iran after the Mongol invasion is reviewed, as well as the process of refinement and attrition which followed and which, over the 14th century, resulted in the formation of the classical Persian style of miniature painting. Approaching manuscript illustration of the 14th-16th centuries, the analysis focuses on programmatic cycles of images, reflection of religious-philosophical ideas, and the impact of decorative function on visual aesthetics. In the second part of the course, the separation of the image from the text is discussed, as well as the development of new branches of miniature painting in the Persianate cultures of the Ottoman Empire, Central Asia and Mughal India.