The “Windows on Iran” series began as an email update written by Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz in the summer of 2006 in order to provide reliable information about contemporary Iranian politics and culture, and to counteract the unrelenting barrage of negative (and many times even false) news about Iran in the mainstream U.S. media.
Dr. Fatemeh Keshavarz is Professor of Persian & Comparative Literature and Chair of the Department of Asian & Near Eastern Languages & Literatures at Washington University in St. Louis. Additionally, she was also recently named Honorary Co-Chair of the national Iranians for Peace organization.
Fatemeh Keshavarz was born and raised in the city of Shiraz in southwest Iran. She holds a B.A. degree in Persian Language and Literature from Shiraz University, and a Masters and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University. Her Ph.D. thesis won the Dunn and Wilson Award (The British Publisher’s Award for a Ph.D. Work of Distinction) in 1986.
Dr. Keshavarz is a published poet in her native language (Persian), writes poetry in English, and is the author of several books and journal articles. Her book Reading Mystical Lyric: the Case of Jalal al-Din Rumi ( 1998 ) analyzes the poetic contribution of the medieval Persian poet and mystic Rumi. Her other literary study Recite in the Name of the Red Rose: Poetic Sacred Making in Twentieth Century Iran (2006) deals with expressions of spirituality in present day Iran. Both these works received the Choice Magazine Award. Her latest book Jasmines and Stars: Reading more than Lolita in Tehran (2007) blends personal memoir with literary analysis and social commentary. It was described by ALA Booklist as an “excellent counterpoint” to Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran.
She has lived in the Near East and Europe, knows Persian, Arabic, and Turkish in addition to English and French (reading knowledge). Her research interests include: Persian poetry, Sufi literature, and Women in the Muslim world.
As a public intellectual, she takes interest in the broader implications of cultural education for world peace. In May 2007, she was invited to speak at the UN General Assembly on this topic (and also click here for an article about her appearance at the UN). And she has been guest of NPR on various occasions. The show “Speaking of Faith” which featured her in the hour-long episode “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi,” received the Peabody Award in April 2008. The Peabody Award is considered electronic media’s most coveted trophy in the U.S. Most recently, she was awarded the 2008 Hershel Walker Peace & Justice Award by People’s Weekly.
Dr. Keshavarz has taught at Washington University since 1990 where she has served as Director of the Graduate Program in Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies, Director of the Center for the Study of Islamic Societies and Civilizations, and President of the Association of Women Faculty. She currently chairs the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages & Literatures.
For more articles and talks by Dr. Keshavarz, please also see the “Articles and Talks” page.