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Dr Firuza Melville

Dr Firuza Melville

Director of Research, Cambridge Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies, Pembroke College

Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge


Dr Firuza Abdullaeva is a graduate (BA, MA honour) of the Iranian Philology Department, Faculty of Oriental Studies, St Petersburg University, where she received her PhD in Iranian philology, Art and Islamic Studies in 1989. She was an Associate Professor at the University of St Petersburg when she joined the Cambridge Shahnama Project in 2002 after a term at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) and a term at the University of Michigan as a Fulbright Professor.

From September 2005 until September 2010 she was Princess Ashraf Lecturer in Persian Literature at the University of Oxford, Tutorial Fellow and Keeper of the Firdousi Library of Wadham College. In October 2010 she was appointed IHF Research Associate of the Cambridge Shahnama Project and elected Academic Associate at Pembroke College. Since 2013 she is the Director of Research at the Cambridge Shahnama Centre for Persian Studies. 

Subject groups/Research projects

Arabic & Persian Studies:

Research Interests

Classical and modern Persian literature, especially the debate literature Comparative visual interpretation of East-West intertextuality, especially in the stories from the Shahnama, Persian mediaeval book art and codicology, Classical Persian literature in contemporary art, travelogue literature of the Qajar period, history of Great Game in Iran, Central and the Caucasus and Russian Orientalism in visual art, literature, music and ballet in Soviet and post-Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Key Publications

From Zulaykha to Zuleika Dobson: femmes fatales in Persian literature and beyond”, Ferdowsi, The Mongols and Iranian History: Art, Literature and Culture from Early Islam to Qajar Persia, eds. R. Hillenbrand, A.C.S Peacock and F. Abdullaeva, Tauris, London (2013), 235-44.

“Khosrow Mirza’s mission to St Petersburg in 1829”, Iranian-Russian encounters. Empires and Revolutions since 1800, ed. S.Cronin, Routledge, London-New York (2013), 69-94.

“Women in the romances of the Shahnama”, in: Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond, ed. Susan Scollay, Melbourne: Macmillan Art Publishing and Oxford: Bodleian Library (2012), pp. 41-5.

“The Bodleian manuscript of Asadi Tusi’s debate between an Arab and a Persian: its place in the transition from ancient debate to classical panegyric”, in: Iran, XLVII (2009), 69-95.

See more here (link to PDF of publications)