Upcoming Persian Circles

Dear all,

Happy new year and welcome back for another quarter of the Persian Circle! Please take note of our upcoming events:

  • Fri. Jan. 10, 4:00–5:30 (Pick 218): Claudia Yaghoobi — “What It Means To Be a Woman In Modern Iran / زن بودن در ایران معاصر”
    • Note the unusual time, date, and location!
  • Wed. Jan. 15, 5:00–6:30 (Pick 222): Bruce Lincoln — “From Ritual Practice to Esoteric Knowledge: The Problem of the Magi” (in English)
  • Wed. Jan. 22, 5:30–6:30 (Pick 222): Barbara Scharres — “Trends and Challenges in Iranian Cinema” (in English)
    • Note that we will start a half-hour later than usual.

Individual announcements for each speaker will follow in due course. Looking forward to seeing you all!

Dec. 4: Alireza Doostdar

The Persian Circle presents
انجمن سخن در دانشگاه شیکاگو تقدیم می کند

Prof. Alireza Doostdar
Univ. of Chicago
استاد علیرضا دوستدار
دانشگاه شیکاگو

Politics, Intimacy, and Social Networks in Iran
سیاست، صمیمیت، و شبکه های اجتماعی در ایران

Wed. Dec. 4, 5:00–6:30pm
Pick 222 / 5828 South University Avenue

Alireza Doostdar teaches courses on the anthropology of religion, contemporary Shi‘ism, and modern Iranian religious history. His first book project, tentatively titled “Taming Wonder: Science, Doubt, and the Supernatural in Iran” explores the ways in which both secular and Islamist modernists have harnessed wonder – as an emotional and cognitive state – in the service of popularizing and sustaining their visions of social and cultural change. His research has focused on discursive productions of superstition, scientific imaginations of the supernatural, and the productivity of ambivalence and doubt in middle class religious subjectivities. His other interests include Islamic “spiritual” cinema, hagiographies of contemporary Shi‘i mystics, online occultist networks, and philosophical debates over the Islamization of the sciences in Iran.

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Avisheh Mohsenin speaks on Pasfarda

Avisheh Mohsenin gave a wonderful presentation about Pasfarda and its latest activities. For full details, please see the attached PDF she has created for us. You can also download her talk by clicking on this link or by using the player below.

If you want to join the Pasfarda email list to be updated on future events, you can fill out the form in at the following URL: http://www.pasfarda.com/Contact.aspx or email them at contact@pasfarda.com.

Nov. 20: Avisheh Mohsenin

The Persian Circle presents
انجمن سخن در دانشگاه شیکاگو تقدیم می کند

Avisheh Mohsenin
آویشه محسنین

Pasfarda: Peace and dialogue through the arts
پسفردا: صلح و گفتگو توسط هنر

Wed. Nov. 20, 5:30–6:30pm (note the change in time!)
Pick 222 / 5828 South University Avenue

Come early for tea and cookies!

​​Avisheh Mohsenin was born in France and moved to Iran as a child, where she grew up and attended university before moving to the U.S. in 1997. In the U.S. she obtained a Masters in Economics and started her art career by taking classes and experimenting with various mediums. Avisheh’s work has moved from photographic compositions to sculptural mixed media pieces involving found objects, hand-fatigued magazine cutouts, light-boxes, and image making using acrylic, pencil, and collages. She is the co-founder of LUMO Films, a company dedicated in the production of the arts and is the co-director of “Someplace Else” (2008), a documentary film on a Chicago blues artist. She is also the co-founder and current president of Pasfarda Arts & Cultural Exchange, a non-profit organization based in Chicago and dedicated to promoting peace through the arts.

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Nov. 6: Mehrnaz Saeedvafa

You are cordially invited to our upcoming Persian Circle:

Mehrnaz Saeedvafa
Associate Chair and Professor at Columbia College, Cinema Art + Science

will join us for a screening and discussion of her latest film,

Jerry and Me

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 5:00–6:30pm
222 Pick Hall / 5828 South University Avenue / Chicago, IL 60637

Mehrnaz Saeedvafa has been teaching as a full time faculty at the Film and Video Department of Columbia College since 1989. She has also been the Artistic Consultant of the Festival of Films from Iran, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago since 1989. Her areas of expertise are cinema studies (international cinema, Middle Eastern cinema, exilic cinema, women, gender, race in cinema), documentary film theory and production and alternative forms. She has lectured and written extensively on Iranian cinema. Her book, Abbas Kiarostami, co-written with Jonathan Rosenbaum, was published by the University of Illinois Press in March 2003. Mehrnaz is an award-winning filmmaker. Her films A Tajik Woman, Saless Far From Home, and Ruins Within have been shown in many international film festivals. Her recent film A Different Moon was shown in several European film festivals in 2009 and has been picked up for distribution by the European Spiritual Film Festival in France. Her latest film, Jerry and Me (2013), is a personal documentary film about her relationship with Jerry Lewis’s cinema.

The film is in English and runs 38 minutes. Discussion will be in Persian.

Some links to explore:

This is a very special session and we hope to see many of you there!

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Richard Payne: The Saints of Mount Bisutun

Prof. Payne gave a fascinating talk today, and thanks to all who came! I have the recording of the session attached below; you’ll have to forgive me, I had the microphone on a little hot, so the sound is a bit distorted (especially at the beginning with my rather loud introduction) but it’s still quite listenable. I hope you enjoy it, and thanks again to our speaker!

Download MP3

Oct. 30: Richard Payne

You are cordially invited to this week’s Persian Circle:

Richard Payne

Assistant Professor at the Oriental Institute

The Saints of Mount Bisutun: Christianizing an Icon of Iranian Imperialism

Wed. Oct. 30, 5:00pm
Pick 222
5828 South University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Richard Payne is a historian of the Iranian world in Late Antiquity, ca 200 – 800 CE. His research focuses primarily on the dynamics of Iranian imperialism, specifically how the Iranian (or Sasanian) Empire successfully integrated socially, culturally, and geographically disparate populations from Arabia to Afganistan into enduring poltical networks and institutions. His current book project, A State of Mixture: Christians, Zoroastrians, and the Making of the Iranian Empire, explores the problem of religious diversity within the empire, showing how Syriac-writing Christians could create a place for themselves in a poltical culture not of their own making. He has published articles on the role of Zoroastrian cosmology on Iranian political thought and practice as well as on the history of Christian communities after the Islamic conquests, among other topics.

After studying at Red Rocks Community College and University of Colorado at Boulder (2004 BA, Classics, summa cum laude), he completed a doctorate in history at Princeton University in 2009. He subsequently taught ancient and medieval history at the Universität Konstanz, the University of Cambridge, Mount Holyoke College, and Amherst College before coming to the University of Chicago. For his work, Richard has been awarded the Bliss Prize from Dumbarton Oaks, the Crisp Fellowship from Phi Beta Kappa, a research fellowship from the DAAD, and a visiting research scholarship from the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. He has also been elected a research fellow of Trinity College, University of Cambridge.

The talk will be in English, and all are encouraged to join! Hope to see you there!

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Kaveh Ehsani: The Oil Industry and Abadan in the 1920s

Thanks to those of you who came to yesterday’s fascinating talk! For those of you who were unable to come, Prof. Ehsani has graciously allowed me to put up the slides and the audio recording of the session for you to enjoy here. Listen below or download the mp3.

Oct. 23: Kaveh Ehsani

You are cordially invited to this week’s Persian Circle:

Kaveh Ehsani

The Oil Industry and Abadan in the 1920s

Wed. Oct. 23, 5:00pm
Pick 222
5828 South University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Kaveh Ehsani is assistant professor of International Studies at DePaul University. Prior to joining DePaul University he was an associate director of the Jomhur Institute of Social Research. He is also on the editorial boards of the Goftogu Quarterly in Iran and Middle East Report (Merip) in the US, and a 2013-2014 research fellow at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. His fields of interest include urban geography, critical social theory, and the political economy of development projects and their social and environmental repercussions. He is currently completing a book entitled Oil and Society in Iran; Abadan and Urban Modernity in 20th Century (Brill Publishers).

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