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Dr. Alyssa Gabbay Delivers Guest Lecture on Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh

The Department of Arabic & Foreign Languages at AUK welcomed Dr. Alyssa Gabbay of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to give a lecture about Abu Al-Qasim Ferdowsi’s poem, Shahnameh, and the shaping of Iranian identity.

The lecture focused on the important role of the Shahnameh in reviving Iranian culture and its continuing importance today. Created over 1000 years ago, this epic poem celebrates exploits of early Persian kings. It consists of more than 50,000 lines and was composed in the new Persian language, since the Arabic language had replaced the older Persian language as a literary language following the Islamic conquests of the Sasanian Empire. The epic served to revive Persian as a literary language and to preserve its pre-Islamic Iranian heritage. Dr. Gabbay vividly described some of the stories in the poem, showed illustrations of various characters from the Shahnameh and scenes in medieval Persian manuscripts, as well as discussed how the work continues to fire the imaginations of many Iranians. She also alluded to the equivocal reception by some people in contemporary Iran, since the poem glorifies Iran’s pre-Islamic past rather than extolling the Islamic era. The lecture was followed by a Q&A session with the attendees.

Dr. Gabbay studied English literature as an undergraduate, and she received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, specializing in classical Persian literature and medieval Islamic history. She is the author of Islamic Tolerance: Amir Khusraw and Pluralism (Routledge, 2010) and numerous journal articles and book chapters.



Dr. Alyssa Gabbay



Released by the Office of Public Affairs on the 16th April 2017



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