Dr Asghar Seyed-Gohrab
MA (University of Amsterdam); MA (Leiden University); PhD (Leiden University)
Asghar Seyed-Gohrab is Associate Professor of Persian Language and Literature in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Leiden University. He teaches classes on Persian and Middle Eastern literature, Islamic mysticism (Sufism), cultural and intellectual interaction between East and West, and Iranian film and cinema. His recent research examines how classical poetry and medieval mystic and philosophical concepts are applied in modern Iran, to effect and comment on political changes. He has concentrated on three central episodes in the 20th century. At the time of the Constitutional Revolution (1905-11), poetry became a vehicle for introducing ‘Western' social and political ideas. During the Islamic Revolution (1979), Khomeini used poetry to express his mystical ideals; he also used mystical concepts as a buttress for his theory of Islamic government. During the Iran-Iraq war, poetry became part of the state propaganda, supporting the cult of combatant martyrdom, which in the crisis became an icon of national identity and a means of justifying violence. Poetry was also used in intensely personal processing of the horrors and quandaries of revolution and war.