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05/25/10

Farhang Foundation Co-Sponsors the UCLA 'Shahnameh' Conference


A two-day conference, examining Iran's most renowned epic poem

Farhang Foundation is pleased to announce its co-sponsorship of the Shahnameh conference, a two-day event, free and open to the public, examining the national epic of Iran, from May 25 and May 26, 2010 at the UCLA Faculty Center located at 100 Stein Plaza Driveway Los Angeles, CA 90095.

The Shahnameh or "Book of Kings" composed in the 10th century CE, consists of some 50,000 distiches (100,000 lines), which makes it nearly twice the size of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined. Completed over the course of nearly three decades by Iranian poet, Abolqasem Ferdowsi (c. 940 - 1020 CE), the manuscript is a sweeping panorama of archetypical heroes, villains, and their epic conflicts. Composed in the aftermath of the seventh-century Arab and Islamic conquest of Iran, but written exclusively in Persian verse, the Shahnameh is considered by many to have helped preserve the Persian language, as well as the country's mythical and historical past. In addition to Iranians who live in and out of Iran, many Tajiks, Kurds, Beluchis, and others relate to the narrative of the Shahnameh as their "epic and ethnic history." For this reason, its significance extends beyond literature, religion, and borders.

"Like the epic poetry of other cultures, the Shahnameh is a rich resource for anyone interested in learning about the archetypical foundations of Persian culture and heritage, as well as a dazzling philosophical treatise on a way of living that can be characterized as worthy of a 'hero' or 'king'," said Ali Razi, Chairman of Farhang Foundation.  "As such, Farhang Foundation is excited to be co-sponsoring this important conference and we look forward to seeing the discussion and learning that ensues."

Organized by UCLA's G. E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies, and co-sponsored by the Farhang Foundation, the Ilex Foundation, and the Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies at UC Irvine, the conference participants will include approximately nineteen scholars coming from Iran, Europe and throughout the United States. They will gather to discuss the Shahnameh in relation to a variety of topics: Iranian national identity; approaches to literary theory that include oral literature and folklore; translation theory; philological and manuscript studies.

The conference will begin on Tuesday, May 25 at 9:30am at the UCLA Faculty Center's Downstairs Lounge and will conclude that afternoon with a public reception. The program continues the following day, Wednesday, May 26 at 10am, at the Faculty Center's Sequoia Room. Full program details are available at www.farhang.org.

Farhang Foundation welcomes all Los Angeles Iranians and non-Iranians alike to attend this educational and eye-opening event, celebrating a thousand-year-old masterpiece, the influence of which still reverberates today

About G. E. Von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies at UCLA
Established in 1957, UCLA's Center for Near Eastern Studies a Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center. It serves as the focal point for international research and teaching on the Middle East and North Africa at UCLA. Through its multidisciplinary outreach programs dedicated to the study of thisregions and global issue, CNES fosters learning about and active participation in the contemporary world. It also offers public events and lecture series, bringing dignitaries, politicians, scholars, artists, and activists to campus and its website conveys scholarly findings and other information to the public. Serving varied constituencies and communities in metropolitan Los Angeles and beyond, it provides knowledge about the contemporary Middle East and North Africa world and promotes lifelong learning through accredited training programs and resources made available on its website at www.international.ucla.edu.

About Farhang Foundation
Farhang Foundation is a non-religious, non-political and not-for-profit foundation established in 2008 to celebrate the art and culture of Iranian-Americans in its widest extent. The foundation supports academic activities in Southern California by funding university programs, publications and conferences. The foundation also supports cultural programs such as celebration of Nowruz and Mehregan, theater, dance performances, films screenings and poetry reading in Southern California. Farhang Foundation, in cooperation with various cultural and academic institutions plans major programs and exhibitions about Iran and its culture. www.farhang.org

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