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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Part IB

Course Description  2023-24

This course provides an introduction to Persian literary texts, using a selection of readings from prose writers and poets. The objective is to introduce major classical Persian authors, to familiarize students with classical literary and poetical conventions and to see the written language in action as a vehicle for literary expression.

During the classes, students will be introduced to close-reading, translation techniques, and literary analysis. Specifically, students will read passages from important narrative poems (masnavis) such as the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, Gorgani's Vis o Ramin, 'Attar's Mantiq al-Tayr, Rumi's Masnavi-ye Ma'navi, or Jami’s Salaman va Absal. They will also be introduced to the Ruba’i of Omar Khayyam, to mixed verse and prose, and ornate prose texts, such as the Golestan of Sa'di and the Kalila va Demna "animal fables".

Form and Conduct

This paper is assessed in two parts – each part carries equal marks: (a) a research essay of between 4,500 and 5,000 words, including footnotes and excluding bibliography. Each student will develop the topic of the essay in consultation with the instructor. A one-page topic and paper outline will be due during the first week of Lent Term. One electronic copy (pdf) of the project shall be submitted to the Programmes Administrator in the Faculty office so as to arrive not later than the fourth Friday of Full Easter Term; (b) a viva voce examination which will contain the reading and translation of a seen passage, a commentary on given aspects of the piece, and a discussion of the research essay.

This description is subject to change, for the latest information, students should consult the Undergraduate Handbook available on the Faculty Intranet.