Boston University
September 28-29, 2017

154 Bay State Road, The Eilts Room

Free and open to the public

Middle Eastern and South Asian studies in the last decade have been energized by the idea of the “Persianate” cultural realm in which the Persian language and courtly conduct (adab) played a central role in societies from the Balkans to Bengal, giving rise to a transnational Muslim cosmopolitanism. This intellectual framework has enabled scholars to examine modes of cultural exchange between powerful polities such as Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Iran and Mughal India, as well as with Europe. Gift-giving between the different courts resulted in a unprecedented movement of objects in this cultural region. Until today important paintings and manuscripts of literary and historical works are preserved in far-flung libraries from Sarajevo to Patna as scholars retrace their early modern itineraries.

Our symposium will focus on the changing relationship that literary and historical texts and paintings had to Persian cosmopolitan models in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, and how they themselves became starting points for distinctive traditions that drew inspiration from local and regionally-specific cultural practices, including the non-courtly. We will also examine the ways in which vernacular production in turn transformed Persian culture. We will approach this topic through a variety of conceptual frameworks: translation, imitation, hybridity, and innovation, across various humanistic disciplines. Individual papers will discuss textual genres such as epic and love lyrics, images in illustrated manuscripts and albums, practices and performances, in their cultural contexts, but also comparatively.


Thursday, September 28, 2017 (4-5 pm)


Poetics of Influence: Diverse Origins and Diverging Paths of Persianate Cosmopolises / Selim Kuru (University of Washington)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Panel 1 (9:30-10:30 am)

Persianate Royal Biographies in Verse / Sunil Sharma (Boston University)

Heroic Verse and History-Writing in the Deccan: Nusrati Responses to the Shahnamah / Subah Dayal (Tulane University)

Coffee break (10:30-10:45 am)

Panel 2 (10:45 am-1 pm)

Safavid Shahrashub: Literary Form and City Experience in Seventeenth-century Isfahan / Farshid Emami (Oberlin College)

The Persianate in Paris: Mughal Manuscript Culture and French Knowledge Production in the Eighteenth Century / Chanchal Dadlani (Wake Forest University)

Branding Iran: Persian Art and Culture in the Age of Global Early Modernity / Kishwar Rizvi (Yale University)

Lunch (1-2:15 pm)

Panel 3 (2:15-3:15 pm)

‘Calligraphers Renowned in the Lands of Rum and Ajam’: Ottoman nastaliq in the Seventeenth Century / Emine Fetvaci (Boston University)

Two Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Sakinames in Persian / Sooyong Kim (Koc University)

Panel 4 (3:30-4:30 pm)

The Persian Sources of Mem û Zîn the First Kurdish Love masnavi / Amr Ahmed (Harvard University)

Dastan literature in late Mughal Bengal: Shah Garibullah’s Dobhashi Amir Hamjar puthi / Thibaut d’Hubert (University of Chicago)

Sponsored by the Department of World Languages and Literatures, Department of History of Art and Architecture, BU Center for the Humanities, Center for the Study of Asia, and the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations