New Books in the Arts & Sciences

Celebrating Recent Work by Hamid Dabashi

Tuesday, February 12, 2019  6:15pm The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room


Free and open to the public

No registration necessary

First come, first seated

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New Books in the Arts & Sciences:
Celebrating Recent Work by Hamid Dabashi

The ShahnamehThe Persian Epic as World Literature
By: Hamid Dabashi

The Shahnameh, an epic poem recounting the foundation of Iran across mythical, heroic, and historical ages, is the beating heart of Persian literature and culture. Composed by Abu al-Qasem Ferdowsi over a thirty-year period and completed in the year 1010, the epic has entertained generations of readers and profoundly shaped Persian culture, society, and politics. For a millennium, Iranian and Persian-speaking people around the globe have read, memorized, discussed, performed, adapted, and loved the poem.

In this book, Hamid Dabashi brings the Shahnameh to renewed global attention, encapsulating a lifetime of learning and teaching the Persian epic for a new generation of readers. Dabashi insightfully traces the epic’s history, authorship, poetic significance, complicated legacy of political uses and abuses, and enduring significance in colonial and postcolonial contexts. In addition to explaining and celebrating what makes the Shahnameh such a distinctive literary work, he also considers the poem in the context of other epics, such as the Aeneid or the Odyssey, and critical debates over the concept of world literature. Arguing that Ferdowsi’s epic and its reception broached an idea of world literature long before nineteenth-century Western literary criticism, Dabashi makes a powerful case that we need to rethink the very notion of “world literature” in light of his reading of the Persian epic. 


  • Author

    Hamid Dabashi

    Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature

    Columbia University

  • Speaker

    Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

    University Professor

    Columbia University

  • Speaker

    Brian Edwards

    Dean, School of Liberal Arts, and Professor of English

    Tulane University

  • Speaker

    Ahmad Sadri

    Gorter Professor of Islamic World Studies and Professor of Sociology

    Lake Forest College


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