[skip to content]

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Classical Persian Poetry

Course Code:
155901372
Unit value:
1
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Full Year

Prerequisites

155901242:  Persian Language 1 (or equivalent)

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of a course, a student should be able to demonstrate:

  • A rounded knowledge and critical understanding of the major genres and themes of classical Persian poetry
  • Familiarity with the principal critical works on the subject, and become familiar with the structural & textual analysis of the poems of 10th-16th Centuries
  • Knowledge of different literary schools instrumental in the developments of Persian literary heritage
  • An understanding of literary language, structures and imagery as embodied in selected texts by leading poets
  • The ability to relate literary structures, themes and imagery  to political and cultural changes of the period under study
  • Acquisition of the critical language to articulate the ways in which language, literature and thought are interrelated

On successful completion of the course the student should be able to approach much classical Persian verse on his/her own, with the help from translations and dictionaries.

Workload

This course is taught over 22 weeks with 2 hours classroom contact per week.  

Scope and syllabus

An introduction to the literary history of Iran and Persian poetry and comprehensive study of the different schools of poetry, as well as the major genres related to the mediaeval period, from its origins to c.1500., will be followed by in-depth study and analysis of a selection of text by well-known poets, representing the major genres of epic, romantic, didactic, spiritual & mystical writing will be read, translated and discussed.

The course will offer a glimpse of production and development of manuscripts as well as an introduction to miniature paintings used to illustrate the poem.  Through listening to recordings of more contemporary, neo-classical compositions, students will be introduced to the close association of classical music and Persian poetry.  Preparation of the texts for class and background reading will be required.

 

This course is compulsory for Year 2 students on the single subject BA Persian degree.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May/June (60%); one essay of 2,000 - 2,500 words to be submitted on day 5, week 4, term 2 (20%); one essay of 2,000 - 2,500 words to be submitted on day 5, week 1, term 3 (20%).

Suggested reading

Texts of all poems will be provided as handouts or study packs.

General Works of Reference

  • Thackston, W. M., (Wheeler McIntosh,) A millennium of classical Persian poetry. a guide to the reading and understanding of Persian poetry from the tenth to the twentieth century
  • C. E. Bosworth, The Islamic Dynasties, A Chronological and Genealogical Handbook, 1980
  • E.G. Browne, A Literary History of Persia, London 1902-24 (and reprints - by C.U.P.), Vols II, III. vol. i 1902, ii 1906, iii 1920, iv 1924.
  • Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature, Dordrecht, 1968.
  • A.J. Arberry, Classical Persian Literature, London 1958.
  • A.J. Arberry, Persian Poems, Everyman's Library, 1954 (and reprints).  A selection of translations.
  • Julie Meisami,  Medieval Persian Court Poetry, Princeton 1987.
  • History of Persian Literature from the Beginning of the Islamic Period to the Present Day, (Handbuch der Orientalistik, Abteilung 1,  Band 4, Abschnitt 2, Lieferung 2) ed. B. Spuler (Leiden 1981), includes George Morrison, 'Persian Literature (Belles-Lettres) from the Earliest Times to the time of Jami,' and Julian Baldick, ‘Persian Sufi Poetry up to the Fifteenth Century.’
  • Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature, Dordrecht, 1968.
  • A.J. Arberry, Classical Persian Literature, London 1958.
  • A.J. Arberry, Persian Poems, Everyman's Library, 1954 (and reprints).  A selection of translations.
  • Julie Meisami,  Medieval Persian Court Poetry, Princeton 1987.
  • History of Persian Literature from the Beginning of the Islamic Period to the Present Day, (Handbuch der Orientalistik, Abteilung 1,  Band 4, Abschnitt 2, Lieferung 2) ed. B. Spuler (Leiden 1981), includes George Morrison, 'Persian Literature (Belles-Lettres) from the Earliest Times to the time of Jami,' and Julian Baldick, ‘Persian Sufi Poetry up to the Fifteenth Century.’
  • C.A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, vol. IV, parts i and ii, by. F. de Blois, London 1992-4.  This goes up to AD1225 so far.
  • Articles in Ehsan Yarshater (ed.), Persian Literature, [New York] 1987.
  • Encyclopaedia of Islam.  Articles on individual poets and topics, second edition where possible