SOAS University of London

Centre for Iranian Studies

Kamran Djam 2013 Annual Lecture at SOAS: The Perils of Persian Princesses: Women and Medieval Persian Literature

Dick Davis
Dick Davis, Ohio State University

Date: 25 October 2013Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 25 October 2013Time: 8:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Lecture

In his first talk Professor Davis will concentrate on the ways in which women are presented in medieval Persian poetry, particularly but not exclusively narrative poetry. A number of dichotomies become apparent when we examine the relevant material. For example, in the first (“legendary” / “mythological”) half of the Shahnameh women are presented very differently from the ways in which they are presented in the “historical” (post Alexander) half of the poem; similarly, if we compare the heroine of the 11th century romance, Vis and Ramin, with heroines of subsequent Persian romances, for example those by Nezami and Jami, we again see a clear difference in treatment – different qualities possessed by the heroines become praiseworthy, different qualities are condemned, and the question of the heroines’ own autonomy and personal agency undergoes major revision. The talk will also include brief discussions of two related issues: the ambiguous gender of the beloved in the Persian ghazal and the relative frequency with which female warriors turn up in medieval Persian narratives (in both verse and prose).
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Kamran Djam Annual Lecture 2013, The Perils of Persian Princesses, Lecture 1

Watch the video of lecture 2 on 28th October 2013

Dick Davis is Professor Emeritus of Persian at Ohio State University, where he was chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from 2002 to 2012. He is the recipient of numerous academic and literary awards, and has written scholarly works on both English and Persian literature, as well as several volumes of his own poetry. He is probably best known for his translations from medieval Persian: these include Attar’s Conference of the Birds(with Afkham Darbandi); Borrowed Ware: Medieval Persian Epigrams; Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh; Gorgani’s Vis and Ramin; and, most recently, Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz. He has also translated one contemporary work, Iraj Pezeshkzad’s comic novel, My Uncle Napoleon. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been called, by the Times Literary Supplement, “our finest translator from Persian”.

Lecture to be followed by a reception in the Brunei Suite at 7.30pm. Please see the full conference programme attached on the right-hand side.

Organiser: Centre for Iranian Studies

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Contact Tel: 020 7898 4330