Ph.D. Program Requirements

The Persian and Iranian Studies degree will focus specifically on either modern or classical Persian literature and culture, or Iranian (or other Persian speaking societies’) history, religion, social organization, and politics. For either, superior language competency in Persian is expected.

The PhD in Persian and Iranian Studies consists of:

  • 21 units of core courses
  • 21 units of elective courses
  • 3 units of a research methods course
  • 18 dissertation units

The completion of a minor is also required. In addition, fourth-year proficiency in Persian is required, and reading knowledge of French, German, or another relevant language is required.

Core Courses

21 units total

Required for all Ph.D. students

The exchange of scholarly information and/or secondary research, usually in a small group setting. Instruction often includes lectures by several different persons. Research projects may or may not be required of course registrants.

Pre-modern Courses from list below (6 units):

This course examines the history of the Iranian plateau from the rise and spread of Islam until the establishment of the Safavid Empire (1501). Thematically, it focuses on the impact of geography and the environment on social and political history; the conversion and Islamicization of local populations; the proliferation of communities and institutions of Islamic knowledge; the development of Persian Sufi literature and brotherhoods; state legitimization through the patronage of literature, court chronicles, and art; the rise of Shi`i messianic movements; and the role of women at court and in society. This course examines the history of the Iranian plateau from the rise and spread of Islam until the establishment of the Safavid Empire (1501). Thematically, it focuses on the impact of geography and the environment on social and political history; the conversion and Islamicization of local populations; the proliferation of communities and institutions of Islamic knowledge; the development of Persian Sufi literature and brotherhoods; state legitimization through the patronage of literature, court chronicles, and art; the rise of Shi`i messianic movements; and the role of women at court and in society. Graduate-level requirements include a final paper 20-25 pages including 15-20 sources. You are expected to write a historiographical paper that engages seriously with the secondary literature.
Survey of Indian history from the 7th century to 1750. Graduate-level requirements include additional research or writing. See instructor for details.
Origin and development of Sufism and its impact on Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.
This graduate seminar explores the rich legal, theological, and political traditions of Shi'ism.
This course explores theories and representations of love in pre-modern Islamicate literature and philosophy. Today we often think of love as a personal emotional experience, but pre-modern authors theorized and portrayed love as a social, political, and even cosmological force. Through primary sources and scholarly studies, we will investigate how the language and structures of eroticism came to condition a whole range of interpersonal relationships, from political patronage to sufi discipleship and believers' relationships with God. We will also consider how the erotic functioned as an arena for ethical practice and self-shaping. Although all materials are provided in English translation, graduate students will also engage with Arabic, Persian, and/or Ottoman Turkish primary sources to the extent their language abilities permit.
This class investigates the praxis and representation of kingship in Islamic societies through the early modern period. It examines how pre-Islamic (and in particularly Iranian) notions and practices of political authority were creatively adapted within Islamic culture, with particular emphasis on how those notions changed over time in response to historical and social developments. Signicant topics include interactions between religious and political authorities, the patronage economy, and new discourses of legitimation after the decline of the caliphate.
Topics vary, including Classical Persian Literature in English Translation; Classical Persian Literature in the Original Language; Medieval Cultural and Political History of Persia; and Ancient Persian Language, Literature and Culture. Focus on student-faculty discussion/interaction and exchange of scholarly information, students engage in research activities and exchange results through discussion, reports, and/or papers. Graduate-level requirements include a class presentation.

Modern Courses from list below (6 units):

The modern Middle East in the age of imperialism, world wars, state formation, decolonization, and Islamic resistance. Graduate-level requirements include additional readings on selected topics and an extensive research paper.
What modernity is and how it came about have long been hotly contested questions. The relationship between modernity and colonialism has often been central in these debates. The course considers this relationship by investigating how intellectuals in colonized lands have understood and critiqued modernity in comparison with Western theories. Graduate-level requirements include reading secondary articles, a five-page paper for discussion, lead weekly readings, a more substantial final paper.
Theory and research methods seminar exploring political identity formation in the Arab Mid East 19th Century to present especially culture of secular nationalism in the first part of the 20th century and political Islam in the late 20th century. Students will prepare major research paper.
This course introduces Middle Eastern women's issues through a critical reading of literary works written by women in the major languages of the Near East (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish) that are available in translation. Readings include poetry, short stories, and novels all analyzed within their social context. Graduate-level requirements include additional reading from the suggested bibliography, longer written papers, an oral presentation and bi-weekly meetings with instructor. Theoretical issues will be addressed and presented in additional material.
This advanced course begins with a survey of the basic Marxist concepts. Readings include Marxist original texts as well as critiques of Marxism. The course will then focus on past Marxist movements in the Middle East and will try to understand its continuing effects on the social and ideological movements there including Islamic fundamentalism. Undergraduate students may consult with the instructor to enroll in this class.
Various topics including Modern Persian Literature in English Translation; Modern Persian Literature in the Original Language; Contemporary Cultural and Political History of Iran, Ideology and Revolution in Iran, and Women and Gender Issues in Contemporary Iran. Exchange of scholarly information, research by course registrants, exchange results through discussion, reports, and/or papers. Graduate-level requirements include a longer paper.
Iran has been lauded as one of the great exporters of cinema during the last two decades. During this time, Iranian films have won countless international awards and enjoyed great reviews. Through the analysis of movies, the history of Iranian cinema, cinematic criticism, and historical texts, this course helps students understand the process of social change in that society and the ways such changes influence the production of art.
This course considers Iranian society and culture from the point of view of the social sciences, supplemented by insights provided through fiction and film. Course content focuses on twentieth-century and contemporary Iran. Topics will include tribal society, rural society, urban life, and their interactions; social structure; Iranian identity; gender; minority groups, language; religious beliefs and rituals; and political movements. The class will pay particular attention to how Iranian society and culture have been studied, by whom, and how these have changed over time. The course will emphasize the subject of diversity in Iran, and have a particular focus on the large body of social science research conducted in and around Fars province and the city of Shiraz.

Additional Pre-modern and/or Modern Courses from lists above (6 units)

Elective Courses

21 units total

Electives should be chosen in consultation with the major advisor.

Up to 6 units of Persian language at the graduate level can be counted toward the required 21 units of elective courses.

Up to 9 units of minor coursework can be counted toward the required 21 units of elective courses.

Research Methods Courses

3 units total

Introduction to the fundamental principle of the scientific method and demonstration of qualitative and quantitative methods used in contemporary applied anthropology.
Explores the social and linguistic aspects of the languages and cultures of Middle Eastern countries with the central goal of introducing students to the correlation between social and linguistic variables from a contemporary sociolinguistic perspective. Graduate-level requirements include additional readings and meeting with the instructor biweekly to discuss the readings of which written critiques will be submitted.
This course presents an overview of issues in Middle East ethnography and ways in which they have altered over time. The course has a dual focus: to examine key issues in the field of Middle Eastern ethnography, and to provide experience in the development of research projects and writing of grant proposals.
A systematic introduction to the history of criticism and/or modern and contemporary critical theory.
The development and exchange of scholarly information, usually in a small group setting. The scope of work shall consist of research by course registrants, with the exchange of the results of such research through discussion, reports, and/or papers.
The development and exchange of scholarly information, usually in a small group setting. The scope of work shall consist of research by course registrants, with the exchange of the results of such research through discussion, reports, and/or papers.
The exchange of scholarly information and/or secondary research, usually in a small group setting. Instruction often includes lectures by several different persons. Research projects may or may not be required of course registrants.
What modernity is and how it came about have long been hotly contested questions. The relationship between modernity and colonialism has often been central in these debates. The course considers this relationship by investigating how intellectuals in colonized lands have understood and critiqued modernity in comparison with Western theories. Graduate-level requirements include reading secondary articles, a five-page paper for discussion, lead weekly readings, a more substantial final paper.
The development and exchange of scholarly information, usually in a small group setting examining in depth topics in syntactic and semantic theory. The scope of work shall consist of research by course registrants, with the exchange of the results of such research through discussion, reports, and/or papers.
An introduction to syntactic theory with an emphasis on data analysis, critical thinking, and theory development. Taught within the generative Principles and Parameters approach to syntax. Graduate-level requirements include a greater number of problems.

Dissertation

18 units total

Research for the doctoral dissertation (whether library research, laboratory or field observation or research, artistic creation, or dissertation writing).

Language Requirements 

Fourth-year proficiency in Persian is required. To meet this requirement, students must take PRS 508 — 4th Year Persian II or receive credit by exam. If the latter option is chosen, the exam must be administered by a Persian language instructor

Reading knowledge of French, German, or another relevant language is required. Units received toward this requirement cannot be counted toward the required 21 units of elective courses.

All language requirements must be satisfied before taking the comprehensive exam.

This course offers advanced students the opportunity to study professional, academic, technical, and creative texts. It will help them develop superior level proficiency by improving their vocabulary, reading ability, writing skills, and knowledge of the nuances of the language. Reading skills will be acquired through the use of texts and media. Listening skills will be acquired through discussions and exposure to news broadcasts, interviews, songs, and audio-visual materials. Writing skills will be improved though writing assignments followed by feedback from the instructor and fellow students. Superior speaking skills will be practiced in class discussions, group activities, presentations, and through the simulation of cultural and linguistic contexts. Graduate-level requirements include translation and incorporation of primary sources use in the course in research projects (25%).
Graduate-level requirements include translation and incorporation of primary sources use in the course in research projects (25%).

Minor Requirement

Students must complete a minor in a field of their choice. Requirements of the minor are determined by the minor department/school. Up to 9 units of minor coursework can be counted toward the required 21 units of elective courses.