MemberMatthew Thomas Miller

…‘Tell Me Something I Don’t Know!’: The Place and Politics of Digital Methods in the (Islamicate) Humanities.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 50 (2017): 135-139. doi:
“Fakhr al-Dīn ‘Irāqī: Poet and Mystic.” In Religious and Mystical Literature (Volume VI of A History of Persian Literature Series), eds. Fatemeh Keshavarz, Ahmet T. Karamustafa, and Ehsan Yarshater. New York: I.B. Tauris, Forthcoming 2018.

Public Scholarship

“The Kite Runner Critiqued: New Orientalism Goes to the Big Screen.” CommonDreams (Jan 2008). Available here. Translated into Persian: “Ravâyati neo-orientâlisti az khâvarmiyâneh: naqdi d…

Matthew Thomas Miller, PhD. is Assistant Professor of Persian Literature and Digital Humanities at Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. He also serves as the Associate Director of the Roshan Initiative in Persian Digital Humanities (PersDig@UMD) and as the co-PI for the multi-institutional Open Islamicate Texts Initiative (OpenITI) and the Persian Manuscript Initiative (PMI). His research focuses on medieval Sufi literature, the history of sexuality and the body, and digital humanities. He currently is working on a book project, entitled Embodying the Beloved: Embodiment and Mystical Modes of Meaning Creation in Medieval Persian Sufi Literature, and a number of articles on computational or “distant reading” approaches to Persian literature and carnivalesque Sufi poetry.

MemberBehnam M. Fomeshi

Specializing in comparative literature, Behnam Mirzababazadeh Fomeshi is interested in Iranian studies, American studies and in particular the intersection of the two. He is also highly experienced in literary theory, with experience in teaching and considerable expertise in Persian language, literature and culture. In addition to Humboldt fellowship, Behnam received several grants including two for his research stays at the School of Modern Languages at University of St Andrews and the Department of Persian Studies at Leiden University. His works have been widely published. He lectured at various national and international conferences, symposia, colloquia, and workshops. He has taught courses on various genres as well as study skills. Behnam is a fellow of Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to conduct research on Whitman and Persian poetry. Behnam would like to keep in touch with scholars of Persian literature and Whitman scholars from around the world. Any piece of information regarding the presence of Whitman in Iran (e.g. an early translation of Whitman to Persian) is highly appreciated. Please visit

MemberLevi Thompson

Levi Thompson holds a BA in History and Government from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, where he grew up in the Appalachian Mountains. He has an MA in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in Arabic Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles. His dissertation, Speaking Laterally: Transnational Poetics and the Rise of Modern Arabic and Persian Poetry in Iraq and Iran (, brings together the theoretical richness of Comparative Literature and the philological rigor of Area Studies to critically investigate the development of literary modernism in the Middle East. After completing his PhD in 2017, Levi was the Artemis A.W. and Martha Joukowsky Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender Studies at the Pembroke Center at Brown University, where he was a member of the Pembroke Seminar organized on the topic “The Cultures of Pacifism.” While at Brown, he transformed a dissertation chapter into the forthcoming article “An Iraqi Poet and the Peace Partisans: Transnational Pacifism and the Poetry of Badr Shākir al-Sayyāb,” to appear in College Literature. He is currently working on several projects, including a book manuscript tentatively titled Re-Orienting Modernism: East-East Poetic Exchange in Arabic and Persian, a book chapter about the Iranian leftist poet Aḥmad Shāmlū for a collection on Persian literature as world literature, and translations of poetry and prose by the Syro-Palestinian poet Ramy al-Asheq, among others. Levi teaches courses covering modern Middle Eastern literature, cinema, and culture more broadly, with a focus on the Arabic- and Persian-speaking worlds during the twentieth century. While studying Arabic in Cairo during the 2011 uprising, Levi co-founded Tahrir Documents, a digital archive of paper ephemera distributed by protestors in Tahrir Square which a group of volunteers collected, translated into English, and made available online.

Deposit“Sweetening the Heavy Georgian Tongue: Jāmī in the Georgian-Persianate World”

The poetry of Teimuraz I’s marks a turning point in Georgian literary history. From 1629–34, the poet-king of Kartli and Kaxetia (eastern Georgia) undertook to produce a Georgian equivalent to Niẓāmī Ganjevī’s famed quintet (khamsa) that stands as one of the major achievements of classical Persian literature. While Teimuraz I imitated the form of Niẓāmī’s khamsa, he adds new stories. This chapter explores Teimuraz I’s engagement with Jāmī and with the wider Persian tradition in order to gain a deeper understanding of translation and imitation in the early modern Persianate world. In conceiving of translation as a kind of appropriation, Teimuraz I’s engagement with the romances of Niẓāmī and Jāmī offers an alternative to the current understanding of translation as the wholesale reproduction of a syntactical unit. The forms of intertextuality cultivated by these premodern translation practices indicate the limitations of contemporary understandings of translation for tracking Yūsuf u Zulaykhā’s multilingual circulation across the Persianate world. Teimuraz I turned to Persian, I argue, less for the sake of the fictional patrons and beloveds he praises so elaborately, than for the sake of a literary future he brought into being by grafting his tale, composed in the inferior Georgian tongue, onto a more durable Persianate ethos. While attending to the constraints and possibilities that were opened up by Teimuraz I’s status as a vassal of multiple Ṣafavīd rulers, I also consider the variegated meanings wielded by translation, influence, and vernacular literary expression across the early modern Persianate world.

Deposit“From Pious Journeys to the Critique of Sovereignty: Khaqani Shirvani’s Persianate Poetics of Pilgrimage,” Remapping Travel Narratives in the Early Modern World (Amsterdam UP, 2018)

While the trope of the Islamic pilgrimage (ḥajj) is well known, the impact of the imagery and concept of travel on poetic production from the Islamic world, particularly in Persian, has not merited the same scrutiny. This chapter introduces one of the most important and yet least-studied Persian travel narratives to an interdisciplinary readership: the Gift from the Two Iraqs (Tuhfat al-ʿIraqayn), composed in the middle of the twelfth century by the Persian poet Khāqānī Shirvānī. I examine this work’s contribution to world literature and global poetics by documenting its deployment of key tropes from a longer tradition of thinking about mobility within Persian and Islamic poetics. Of particular interest is Khāqānī’s transformation the riḥla, a discourse known for celebrating migration as a pious act, into a means of critiquing sovereign power.

DepositPersian Autobiography Syllabus

This course covers autobiographical writings in Persian from premodern times to contemporary Iran. It reflects the emergence of autobiographical writing in the first days of Islam and an evolving sense of self, identity, and cultural cohesion, and then records transitions within the political/economic power structures in the geographical region. In addition, travel literature and perceptions of “otherness” are recorded, as well as gender roles, and politics.

DepositConfessions of a Comparatist (2019)

This essay offers an autobiographical account of reading across literatures and languages. I compare the selves that I have developed in each of three languages—Russian, Persian, and Georgian—over the course of many years of reading. Refusing to make literary traditions coterminous with national identities, I reflect here on love through language and on language through love while narrating how I cultivated my multilingual reading habits.

DepositHard Translation: Persian Poetry and Post-National Literary Form

This essay examines how translation theory can globalize contemporary literary comparison. Whereas Persian studies has historically been isolated from the latest developments within literary theory, world literature has similarly been isolated from the latest developments within the study of non-European literatures. The methodology of hard translation developed here can develop these links. Hard translation incorporates translation in the form of exegesis, while preserving traces of the source language in the target language. Coined in 1929 by the Chinese critic, writer and translator Lu Xun, hard translation (yingyi) is here considered alongside Walter Benjamin’s cognate and nearly contemporaneous arguments for translation in a context of linguistic incommensurability.

TopicNew Publication about Timurid Culture

<div class=”m_-7631707311704711778gmail-m_5823890104242064444node-body”> Dear Colleagues, I am pleased to announce that my book is now out: Un empire de mots. Pouvoir, culture et soufisme à l’époque des derniers Timourides au miroir de la Khamsa de Mīr ‘Alī Shīr Nawā’ī from Peeters Publishers. It is available from Peeters:<wbr />oekoverz.asp?nr=9977 Best wishes, Marc Toutant Un empire de […]