“Hafiz and His Contemporaries” by Dominic Parviz Brookshaw

Dominic Parviz Brookshaw is Associate Professor of Persian Literature at the University of Oxford, and Senior Research Fellow in Persian at Wadham College, Oxford. From 2011-2013 he was Assistant Professor of Persian Literature and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. Professor Brookshaw currently serves on the Editorial Board of Middle Eastern Literatures and, for a decade (2004-2014), he served as Assistant Editor for Iranian Studies. He is a former member of both the Board of the International Society for Iranian Studies, and the Governing Council of the British Institute of Persian Studies.

In this talk, Professor Brookshaw discusses his monograph, Hafiz and His Contemporaries: Poetry, Performance, and Patronage in Fourteenth-century Iran, published in February 2019 by Bloomsbury.

About the talk: For more than eight centuries, Shiraz has been synonymous with fine Persian poetry. Dubbed the Abode of Knowledge and the Tower of Saints, Shiraz has often been read through a reductive pietistic lens by those who posit a Sufistic underpinning for its poetics, and who ignore (or actively seek to erase) the profane dimensions of the city’s vibrant literary culture. In the immediate post-Mongol period, panegyric odes written in praise of Shiraz and its rulers formed the backbone of the lyric poetry produced in the city, and served as vehicles for a chauvinistic Shirazi propaganda that targeted other major centers of Persian literary activity in the region, primarily Tabriz, Baghdad, and Isfahan. In his praise poetry infused as it is with the homonormative aesthetics of the Persian ghazal, Hafiz presents Shiraz not only as paradise on earth, but as an irresistible, all-captivating beloved. Hafiz promoted the idea of the cultural superiority of Shiraz through their insistent claim that the poetry produced within its urban fabric forms the standard that all Persian poets must strive for, whether they be players within the same literary network spanning Iran and Iraq, or poets active far beyond the old borders of the Ilkhanid realm.

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