Field of Interest:
Fatemeh Shams is a professor of modern Persian literature at the University of Pennsylvania. She has also taught Persian language and literature at various academic institutions in the United Kingdom, including the University of Oxford, the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her work focuses on the intersection of literature, politics, and society. Shams is interested in the evolution of poetry and patronage in the Persian literary tradition and the representation and transformation of this relationship in modern Iran. She has published articles and book chapters on poetry, patronage, and politics in the Iranian context. Her book, A Revolution in Rhyme: Poetic Co-option under the Islamic Republic (Oxford University Press, 2020), deals with poets and patrons in Iran. She was awarded the Humboldt Foundation Fellowship to join the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin in order to embark on a book project on exile and exilic writing in the Persian tradition. Shams is also an internationally acclaimed, award-winning poet who has published three collections of poetry in Persian and in English. Her first collection, 88 (Gardoon, 2012), won the Jaleh Esfahani Poetry Award in London. Her third bilingual collection, When They Broke Down the Door (Mage, 2015), won a Latifeh Yarshater Book Award in 2016. Her poetry and translations have been featured in World Literature Today, the Michigan Quarterly Review, Life and Legends, Poetry Foundation, Jacket 2, Penn Sound, and more. The Mirror of My Heart: A Thousand Years of Persian Poetry by Women (Penguin, 2021) features a number of her poems.
Of all the many ways in which literature can be delineated and categorized, distinctions along gender lines are perhaps the…
- 1Farzaneh Milani, Words and Veils: The Emerging Voices of the Iranian Women Writers (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1992), 11
- 2Andrew Ashfield, “Introduction,” Romantic Women Poets 1770–1838, edited by Andrew Ashfield (Manchester, 1995), xii
- 3For British female poetry canon formation, see Terry, Richard. “Making the Female Canon,” ed. Terry, Richard, Poetry and the Making of the English Literary Past: 1660-1781 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 252-285. For a similar discussion in the Persianate context, see Farzaneh, Milani. “Words and Veils: The Emerging Voices of the Iranian Women Writers (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1992).
- 4D. P. Brookshaw, “Women in Praise of Women: Female Poets and Female Patrons in Qajar Iran,” Iranian Studies, vol. 46, no. 1 (2013), 18-19.
- 5See Sunil Sharma, “From ʿĀesha to Nur Jahān,” 155.
- 6Sharma, “From ʿĀesha to Nur Jahān,” 156.
- 7Maria Szuppe, “The Female Intellectual Milieu in Timurid and Post-Timurid Herāt: Faxri Heravi’s Biography of Poetesses, “Javāher Al-‘Ajāyeb,” Oriente Moderno (1996), vol. 15, no. 76, p. 119-137.
- 8Sunil Sharma, “From ʿĀesha to Nur Jahān: The Shaping of a Classical Persian Poetic Canon of Women,” Journal of Persiante Studies 2 (2009), 152.
- 9Maria Szuppe, “The Female Intellectual Milieu in Timurid Period,” 123.
- 10To read more on Farrokhzad’s poetry, see Farzaneh Milani, “Love and Sexuality in the Poetry of Forugh Farrokhzad: A Reconsideration,” Iranian Studies, 1982, vol. 15, no. 1/4 (1982), 117-128.
- 11Farzaneh Milani, Words and Veils: The Emerging Voices of the Iranian Women Writers (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1992), 11.
- 12Milani, Words and Veils, 11.
- 13Milani, Words and Veils, 11.
- 14Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), p.44
- 15Farzaneh Milani, Veils and Words, 11-12.
- 16Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which is Not One (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1977), 211.
- 17Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,” Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre, ed. Sue-Ellen Case (Baltimore: John Hopkins, UP, 1990), 273.
- 18Farid al-Din Attar Neishabouri, Elāhināmeh, ed. Mohammadreza Shafi‘i Kadkani (Tehran: Sokhan, 2008), 371.
- 19Sunil Sharma, “From ʿĀesha to Nur Jahān,” 151.
- 20Safoura Nourbakhsh, “The Costly Transgression: Woman as Lover in Sufi Discourse,” Sufi Journal of Mystical Philosophy and Practice, no. 98 (Winter Issue, 2020), 37-41.
- 21Noor Al-din Muhammad ‘Awfi Bukhari, Lubāb Al-bāb (Persian Edition), ed. Edward Browne (London-Leyden, 1930), entry 51, page 61.
- 22Dick Davis, Mirror of My Heart: A Thousand Years of Persian Poetry by Women (Washington D.C, Mage Publishers, 2019), xxii.
- 23Davis, Mirror of My Heart, xxiii-xxiv.
- 24Farid al-Din Attar Neishabouri, Elāhināmeh, ed. Mohammadreza Shafi‘i Kadkani (Tehran: Sokhan, 2008), 371.
- 25Nourbakhsh, “The Costly Transgression,” 41.
- 26Attar, Ilāhināmah, 371-372.
- 27Attar, Ilāhināmah, 372.
- 28Julie Scott Meisami, Medieval Persian Court Poetry (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1987), Ch.1.
- 29Attar, Ilāhināmah, 384.
- 30Attar, Ilāhināmah, 384.
- 31Attar, Ilāhināmah, 372.
- 32Attar, Ilāhināmah, 379.
- 33Attar, Ilāhināmah, 379.
- 34Attar, Ilāhināmah, 379.
- 35Abdul Rahman Jami, Nafahat al-uns (Tehran: Ketabforushi-ye Mahmoudi, 1957), 629.
- 36Farid al-Din Attar, cited in Annemarie Schimmel’s introduction to Margaret Smith, Rabi‘a the Mystic and Her Fellow-Saints in Islam (London: Cambridge University Press, 1984), xxxvi. For more information on Rabeʿeh Al Adawiya and her mythologization, see Rkia Elaroui Cornell, Rabi’a: From Narrative to Myth (London: Oneworld Academic, 2019).
- 37Farid al-Din Attar, cited in Reuben Levy, The Social Structure of Islam (London: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 132.
- 38Davis, Mirror of My Heart, 6-7.
- 39Sarah Ahmad, Living a Feminist Life, Ch. 8.
- 40Davis, Mirror of My Heart, 6-7.
- 41Davis, Mirror of My Heart, 6-7.
- 42Forugh Farrokhzad, “Sin”, translated by Dick Davis, Mirror of My heart, p.366-367
- 43Forugh Farrokhzad, “Sin”, translated by Dick Davis, Mirror of My heart, p.366-367
- 44Susan Brown sets forward a useful conceptualization of the category of “poetess” in her article about Victorian poetess. See, Susan Brown, “The Victorian Poetess,” in The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Poetry, ed. Joseph Bristow (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 184-186.