My research focuses on the diverse geographies and societies of the early modern and modern Persianate world in Iran, Central, and South Asia, with an emphasis on the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. I seek to highlight the many inter-connections, and later divergences, between these regions through the prism of Persian literary production, circulation of texts, political culture, social life, and intellectual interchange. My research, therefore, brings into contact socio-political and literary trends of the early modern and modern Persianate world from the heyday of the Mughal and Safavid Empires and imperial decline to the rise of colonialism, emergence of nationalism, and the advent of print.
My dissertation, “Bâzgasht-i adabî (Literary Return) and Persianate Literary Culture in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Iran, India, and Afghanistan,” detailed the legacy of Persian literary production in the eastern Islamic world in an era of intense political and social change following the break-up of the Safavid and Mughal empires. Moving from Safavid, Zand, and Qajar Isfahan to the environs of Kabul and South India, my dissertation analyzed how networks of Persian poets and littérateurs understood their place within the shifting literary landscape of an increasingly fracturing Persianate world. I argued that all three communities sought refuge in the common heritage of the great Persian poetic “masters,” albeit in different and localized ways. Even in the tumultuous and quickly shifting terrain of Persian literary culture during this time, the recognized importance of the classical styles of the “masters” served as an anchor in helping poets to formulate their own identities and find their own poetic voice in a time of uncertainty. A PDF version of my dissertation's abstract and table of contents can be found below. An excellent review of my dissertation by Arthur Dudney of Cambridge University can be found here.
Calligraphy of Mir Emad al-Hasani from 1611-1612, with borders by Muhammad Hadi from 1755-56. Iran. Freer Gallery of Art, F1931.20.