I am a 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 means that my teaching necessarily extends beyond my training as in European and Mediterranean studies to embrace the literatures of premodern Asia, Africa and the Americas. My research and writing is likewise marked by comparative methods and interdisciplinarity: 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 and the ethnographic gaze in order to bring into sharp relief the differences of premodern ethnographic representation, namely its dialogism, particularly where European description predated colonial control. In showing a Latin Europe incorporative and integrative of the voices and perspectives of its (internal and external) others, I was also interested in the open-ended nature of European identity in its formative period. My current book project continues this interest while returning me to the complex ‘matter of Saracens,’ which first drew me to the study of the Middle Ages. Spendorous Saracens: Appropriating Islamicate Prestige in Medieval European Literature
deploys translatio/n theory and material culture studies to argue for evidence of European desire for ‘prestigious association’ with various medieval Islamicate empires within chansons de gestes, chronicles, and travel writing. I thereby call for renewed attention, through the work of these critically neglected objects, to ‘the Arabic role’ (Menocal 1987) in Europe’s cultural and imperial self-fashioning.
I’m honored to have been elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the MLA Forum, CCLS: Medieval, for the term 2019-24.
For more information, please visit my website: https://complit.sfsu.edu/shirin-khanmohamadi