About Us

The Department of Near Eastern Studies (NES) has been active in the field of Iranian studies since its founding in 1948. In the last quarter of a century, we have trained two generations of distinguished Iranists in the fields of history, literature, linguistics and religion who now teach at universities throughout North America and Europe. This program offers a strong philological training that allows students to master the idiomatic nuances and rhetorical strategies of texts and their cultural and social histories. The combination of linguistic competence and analytical skills are twin tools of the craft with which we train our graduate students.

Our expertise lies in the medieval and early-modern Persianate world with a focus on the social, cultural, literary, and political histories of Iran, Iraq, Anatolia, and parts of Central Asia—Persian-speaking regions in which Islam was diversely translated in the processes of conversion. We teach courses on a range of religious movements (Shi’ism and Sufism in particular), the history of the Turco-Mongols and the Safavids, and Persian literature in both its classical and modern manifestations.

Though Iranian Studies is housed in NES, the courses and programming for Persian language and literature draw on resources, faculty and students from across the university, who span the disciplinary boundaries of archaeology (Henry Wright), history of art (Christiane Gruber), history and society (Kathryn Babayan, Juan Cole), literature and culture (Cameron Cross), and language and linguistics (Behrad Aghaei). Few universities in the United States enjoy such a large and distinguished concentration of scholars working on Iran.