I am an Associate Professor of premodern literature in the Comparative and World Literature department at San Francisco State University, where I’ve been teaching since 2005.  My location in a Comparative and World Literature department has meant that my teaching has from the start stretched beyond my training as in European and Mediterranean studies to embrace the literatures of premodern Asia, Africa and the Americas.   My research and writing have been marked by comparative methods as well: my first book, In Light of Another’s Word: European Ethnography in the Middle Ages (UPenn, 2014), considered postcolonial critical-anthropological critiques of colonial ethnographic description in order to bring into sharp relief the differences of premodern ethnographic form and representation, especially in spaces where European description predated colonial control.  My second book project, Translating Saracens, deploys translatio/n theory and material culture studies to read the movement of symbolic objects conferring imperial authority in epics and other late medieval genres as the material expression of the widespread medieval trope of ‘translatio imperii et studii’, the transfer of past imperial authority and cultural prestige to Europe. I thereby call for renewed attention, through the work of these critically neglected objects, to  ‘the Arabic role’ not only in medieval literary history (Menocal 1987) but also in European self-definition itself in the medieval period.

Shirin A. Khanmohamadi

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