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Shahnameh Festival 2012 at UCI and Irvine Barclay Theatre

Source: Farhang Foundation

Farhang Foundation, in cooperation with The Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture at UC Irvine present "Shahnameh Festival 2012"

Taking place on October 6th, 'Shahnameh Festival' will feature lectures by notable scholars, followed by a premiere live performance starring internationally acclaimed artists:
Gordafarid, Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam, and Miriam Peretz.

LOS ANGELES, CA - Farhang Foundation and the Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture at UC Irvine will be hosting a festival dedicated to the Shahnameh ("Book of Kings" - National Epic of Iran) written by Ferdowsi (c. 940 - 1020 CE), taking place on October 6, 2012.

The Shahnameh Festival 2012 kicks off with a free conference at UC Irvine (UCI) that will explore an array of topics including the "Art of the Shahnameh", "Shahnameh in History", and "Shahnameh: Identity & Nationalism."

"The significance of the Shahnameh within the culture of Iran, and in fact surrounding cultures, cannot be overstated. It has impacted everything from language to the values of a society," said Ali C. Razi, chairman of Farhang Foundation. "We are honored to be presenting this collaborative, one-of-a kind program that will offer both a scholarly and an artistic exploration of the Shahnameh, and are grateful to the efforts of the Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture."

The conference, FREE and open to all, begins at10:30am till 5:30pm on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at The Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture located at 1030 Humanities Gateway and will include lectures by experts in the fields of Persian epics, mythology, and art history, featuring the insights of: (alphabetical order)

  • Firuza Abdullaeva (University of Cambridge)
  • Ali Ansari (University of St Andrews)
  • Touraj Daryaee (UC Irvine)
  • Linda Komaroff (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
  • Mazyar Lotfalian (UC Irvine)
  • Mahmoud Omidsalar (CSU Los Angeles)
  • Alka Patel (UC Irvine)
  • Sonya Rhie Quintanilla (The Cleveland Museum of Art)
  • Jennifer Rose (Claremont Graduate University)
  • Rahim Shayegan (UC Los Angeles)
  • Charles Melville (University of Cambridge)
  • Yuhan S-D Vevaina (Stanford University)

The program continues in the evening at 8pm at the Irvine Barclay Theatre with the premiere live performance of Love Stories of the Shahnameh written in Persian by the renowned artist Gordafarid, the first female naqqal (epic storyteller). Love Stories of the Shahnameh has been choreographed and will be performed by international sensation Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam, who will be joined by the remarkable performing artists and dance instructor, Miriam Peretz.

Tickets for Love Stories of the Shahnameh are now on sale, starting at $45. Sponsorship opportunities for the Shahnameh Festival 2012 are still available. Click here to download the sponsorship form.

For more information on the conference, live performance and tickets, visit


Firuza Abdullaeva (University of Cambridge)
Dr. Firuza Abdullaeva is a graduate (BA, MA honour) of the Iranian Philology Department, Faculty of Oriental Studies, St Petersburg University, where she received her PhD in Iranian philology, Art and Islamic Studies in 1989. She was an Associate Professor at the University of St Petersburg when she joined the Cambridge Shahnama Project in 2002 after a term at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) and a term at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) as a Fulbright Professor. From September 2005 until September 2010 she was Lecturer in Persian Literature at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford and Fellow and Keeper of the Firdousi Library of Wadham College, Oxford. From October 2010 she is the Head of the Shahnama Centre, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. Her main research interests include Classical Persian literature, Medieval Persian book art, Travelogue literature of the Qajar period and Russian Orientalism in Persia, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Ali M Ansari (University of St Andrews)
Professor of Iranian History & Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews; Associate Fellow of the Middle East Programme, Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House). Author of: Crisis of Authority: Iran's 2009 Presidential Election RIIA, London, 2010; Iran Under Ahmadinejad, Adelphi Paper, IISS, January 2008,Confronting Iran: the failure of US policy and the roots of mistrust Hurst, London, 2006, Modern Iran since 1921: the Pahlavis and after, 2nd Edition, Longman, London, 2007, Iran, Islam & Democracy - The Politics of Managing Change 2ndEdition, RIIA, London, 2006; "Iran and the US in the shadow of 9/11: Persia and the Persian Question revisited", in Iranian Studies, Vol 39, No 2, June 2006, pp 155-170; "Peacekeeping in the Middle East' Peacekeeping ed Rachel Utley, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2006, pp 135-146; "Persia in the Western Imagination' in Vanessa Martin (ed) Anglo-Iranian Relations since 1800 Royal Asiatic Society Books, Routledge, London, 2005, pp8-20; "Iranian Nationalism" in Youssef Choueri (ed)Companion to the History of the Middle East Blackwell, London, 2005, pp 320-333; "Cultural Transmutations: the Dialectics of Globalisation in Contemporary Iran", in T Dodge & R Higgot (eds) Globalisation and the Middle East: Economy, Society & Politics RIIA, London, 2002; "The Myth of the White Revolution: Mohammad Reza Shah, 'modernisation' and the consolidation of power", in Middle Eastern Studies, 37, 3, July 2001 pp 1-24; "Iranian Foreign Policy under Khatami: Reform & Reintegration", in Iran & Eurasia ed A Ehteshami & A Mohammadi, Ithaca Press, Reading, 2000, pp 35-58; 'Continuous Regime Change from within', The Washington Quarterly, Autumn 2003, Vol 26 number 4, pp 53-68.

Forthcoming: The Politics of Nationalism in Modern Iran, CUP, 2012

Touraj Daryaee (UC Irvine) Touraj Daryaee is the Howard C. Baskerville Professor in the History of Iran and the Persianate World and the Acting Director of the Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture at the University of California, Irvine. He is the editor of the Name-ye Iran-e Bastan: The International Journal of Ancient Iranian Studies and the creator of Sasanika: The Late Antique Near East Project.
Among his publications are the following books: The Oxford History of Iran, 2012; Sasanian Persia: the Rise and Fall of an Empire, IB Tauris 2009; Scholars and Humanists: Iranian Studies in the Correspondence of S.H. Taqizadeh and W.B. Henning, co-edited with Iraj Afshar, Mazda Publishers, 2010; Sasanian Iran: Portrait of a Late Antique Empire, Mazda Press, 2008; The Spirit of Wisdom: Essays in Memory of Ahmad Tafazzoli, co-edited with M. Omidsalar, Mazda Press, 2004

Linda Komaroff (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Dr. Linda Komaroff has served as LACMA's curator of Islamic art since 1995. She is the author or editor of several books, and has written numerous articles and book chapters on various aspects of Islamic art, with a special focus on the Iranian world. Her exhibitions at LACMA include Letters in Gold: Ottoman Calligraphy from the Sakıp Sabancı Collection, Istanbul (1999); The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256-1353 (2003); A Tale of Two Persian Carpets (2009); and Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts (2011). The latter was the first major exhibition on Islamic art organized by an American institution to travel to the Middle East, to the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (2012), where Komaroff was the guest curator. Her next exhibition Gardens of Eternity: Visualizing Paradise in Islamic Art is scheduled for 2016. She is the recipient of a number of grants for scholarly research, including two Fulbright fellowships, and Metropolitan Museum of Art and Getty fellowships, while the Legacy of Genghis Khanexhibition catalogue received the prestigious Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Award from the College Art Association and Gifts of the Sultan received the Annual Publication Prize for Outstanding Exhibition Catalogue from the Association of Art Museum Curators. She has taught at Hamilton College, New York University, and UCLA. Komaroff orchestrated LACMA's acquisition of the Madina Collection of Islamic Art in 2002, which in combination with the museum's already existing collection of Islamic art, gives Los Angeles one of the most significant collections worldwide; in 2006 she began to acquire and exhibit contemporary art of the Middle East, placing LACMA's collection at the forefront of American museums.

Mazyar Lotfalian (UC Irvine)
Mazyar Lotfalian (PhD, Anthropology, Rice University) is currently the Assistant Director of Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture at the University of California, Irvine. He is working on a book on aesthetics and politics of the transnational circulation of visual culture (film, multimedia art, performance, and photography) among Iranians. He is also interested in studies of science and technology in non-Western settings and the role the religion, a topic he addressed in his book, Islam, Technoscientific Identities, and Culture of Curiosity (2004, UPA). For this work he conducted multi-sited ethnographic research of Islamic movements in Malaysia, Turkey, Iran, and the US. He has taught courses on Islam, cinema, media, and science studies at University of Pittsburgh, Yale University, The New School University, and Emerson College, and held post-doctoral fellowship positions at the Center for Religion and Media at NYU, and Harvard University's Middle East Center.

Charles Melville (University of Cambridge)
Charles Melville is Professor of Persian History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Pembroke College. Since 1999, he has been Director of the Shahnama Project, and since 2006 he has been President of The Islamic Manuscript Association (TIMA), both based in Cambridge. His main research interests are in the history and historiography of Iran in the Mongol to Safavid periods, and the illustration of Persian manuscripts. Recent publications include edited volumes of Safavid Persia (1996), Shahnama Studies I (2006), Shahnama Studies II (2012), and 'Millennium of the Shahnama of Firdausi' (Iranian Studies, 2010, with Firuza Abdullaeva); recent books include The Persian Book of Kings. Ibrahim Sultan's Shahnama (2008, also with Firuza Abdullaeva) and Epic of the Kings. The art of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh (2010, with Barbara Brend), together with numerous articles on aspects of Iran's medieval history and culture.

Mahmoud Omidsalar (CSU Los Angeles)
I was born in 1950, studied in Iran through high school, came to the US in 1969. Got my BA in Economics from Fresno State University in 1975, my MA and PhD in Iranian Philology and Persian literature respectively in 1982 and 1984. Taught comparative literature and Persian language and literature for a while in various universities (UCB, UCLA, CSULB, Indiana University at Bloomington), and ended up working at academic libraries. I am now employed by the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library of CSULA. I am also on the folklore editor for the Encyclopedia Iranica, and have been serving on the Supreme Council of the Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia in Tehran. I have published 6 volumes of facsimile editions of Persian manuscripts with Iraj Afshar. Also, two volumes of my Persian papers have been published in Iran and two English volumes entitled Poetics and Politics of Iran's National Poem, the Shahnameh (New York: Macmillan, 2011) and Iran's Epic and America's Empire: A Handbook for a Generation in Limbo (Santa Monica, CA: Afshar Publishing, 2012). There are also some 100+ articles and encyclopedia entries published here and there.

Alka Patel (UC Irvine) Alka Patel is the Associate Professor of Art History at the University of California, Irvine. Her research has focused on South Asia and its connections with Iran and Central Asia including overland and Indian Ocean maritime networks. Her works include Building Communities in Gujarat: Architecture and Society during the Twelfth-Fourteenth Centuries (Brill 2004), Communities and Commodities: Western India and the Indian Ocean (guest editor, special issue of Ars Orientalis [2004/2007]), and her current book project on the Ghurids of Afghanistan and northern India (ca. 1150-1215). Her interests have expanded to include mercantile mobility, networks and architectural patronage in 18th-19th-century South Asia, as evidenced in Indo-Muslim Cultures in Transition (co-ed. K. Leonard, Brill 2012) and her collaborative project with Karen Leonard on the merchant communities of Hyderabad, India.

Sonya Rhie Quintanilla (The Cleveland Museum of Art)
Sonya Quintanilla recently began her post as the George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. For eight years she was the Curator of Asian Art at The San Diego Museum of Art, where she was in charge of the world-class Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Southern Asian paintings. She completed her B.A. in South Asian Art and Religion at Smith College in 1993 and her Ph.D. in Indian art history at Harvard University in 1999; in 2007 she published her doctoral work in History of Early Stone Sculpture at Mathura. From 2000-2004 Sonya taught South Asian art history at the University of California at Irvine. Her scholarly publications are on early Indian sculpture and Jainism as well as modern paintings of India. She has curated major traveling exhibitions, including Into India: South Asian Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art (2012), Dreams and Diversions: Japanese Woodblock Prints from The San Diego Museum of Art (2010), and Rhythms of India: The Art of Nandalal Bose (2008).

Jennifer Rose (Claremont Graduate University)
Jenny Rose teaches Zoroastrian Studies at the School of Religion, Claremont Graduate University. She holds a doctorate in Ancient Iranian Studies from Columbia University, and her dissertation was published in book form as The Image of Zoroaster: The Persian Mage Through European Eyes (Bibliotheca Persica Press, 2000). In 2011 Jenny publishedZoroastrianism: An Introduction (I.B. Tauris), and Zoroastrianism: A Guide for the Perplexed, (Continuum), both of which have been favorably reviewed in the US and abroad. Jenny lectures extensively at other academic institutions, museums, and Zoroastrian Association events throughout North America and Europe. She also leads study-tours of some of the most important archaeological, cultural and devotional sites in Iran and Central Asia.

Rahim Shayegan (UC Los Angeles)
Dr. M. Rahim Shayegan is Associate Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA. He received his Ph.D. in 2000 from Harvard University. He is also the Acting Director of the Iranian Studies program at UCLA. His speciality is the study of Achaemenid, Arsacid, Seleucid, and Sasanian history with special attention to interactions between Mesopotamia and Iran; as well as Greco-Roman and Iranian cultural and ideological exchanges. His book include Talmud in Its Iranian Context, co-edited with C. Bakhos, J.C.B. Mohr, 2010; Arsacids and Sasanians: Political Ideology in Post-Hellenistic and Late Antique Persia, Cambridge, 2011; and Aspects of History and Epic in Ancient Iran: From Gaumata to Wahnam, Center for Hellenic Studies, 2012.

Yuhan S-D Vevaina (Stanford University)
Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina received his M.A. in 2003 and his Ph.D. in 2007 from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University. He served as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Undergraduate Core Curriculum and as the Lecturer on Old Iranian at Harvard from 2007-2009. He was a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities from the National Council for the Humanities in 2010. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. He teaches a number of courses related to Ancient and Late Antique Iran, including Old Persian and Middle Persian Language and Literature; Winged Bulls and Sun Disks: Religion and Politics in the Persian Empire; and most recently, Priests, Prophets, and Kings: Religion and Society in Late Antique Iran. He is currently working on a book project on Zoroastrian hermeneutics in Late Antiquity, and he is a co-editor of the forthcoming, The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Zoroastrianism, to be published by Wiley-Blackwell of Oxford, U.K.


The first female naqqal (Iranian epic storyteller) of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh "Iranian National Epic", Gordafarid, has excelled in performing traditional narration of epic stories (naqqali) through fourteen years of research, meticulous collection of narratives, and patiently following the footsteps of old masters of this ancient dramatic art. Gordafarid has come a long way in challenging conventional social norms that consider naqqali as being an art form performed by men and for men in public places such as Traditional coffeehouses. Her perseverance and determination bore fruit when Morshed Torabi, the most famous naqqal in Iran, prized her with his own cane in recognition of her achievements. She has incorporated different styles of naqqali into a seamless and unique narrative style that is all her own. Gordafarid's stunning capability in capturing the imagination of audience has drawn large crowds to her numerous performances both inside Iran and abroad. She has also published books and articles on naqqali and offered workshops and courses on the subject at schools and universities. Her name has been recorded in the "Intangible Heritage" of

Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam
Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam graduated from the University of Paris VIII with a degree in History of Art and Theatre. He specializes in Middle Eastern folklore and mystical dance and has a deep interest in Indian, Indonesian and Flamenco dances. Shahrokh joined the renowned Theatre du Soleil in 1991, where he played lead roles in Ariane Mnouchkine's productions of "Tartuffe" "La ville parjure" and "Les Atrides". In 1997 he established the Nakissa Dance Company and created: "A Persian Night's Dream", "The Route of Orient", "Nostalgia or Ghassedak", "The Seven Pavilion of Love" (Haft Peykar), "Omar Khayam," "Les Danses Mythologiques," "Mani the Bouddha of Light," "Rumi Le brūle" and coming soon: "Hafez". Meanwhile, he has also been playing in: "Twelfth Night" by Shakespeare, directed by Christophe Rauck; "Romeo and Juliette", directed by Lionel Briand; "The Baccantes" by Euripide, directed by Usevio Lazaro; "Soldier's Tale" by Strawinsky and "La Diva D'Auschwitz", directed by Antoine Campo; "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams directed by Phillip Adrian; "Kidnapping at the Seraglio" by Mozart directed by Jerome Deschamps and Macha Makeļef. He directed "Zohreh va Manouchehr" (Venus and Adonis) by Shakespeare in Persian; "Mardha va Chiz" (Men and the Thing); and "Kafane Siah" (Black Shroud). Since January 2005 he has been an official member of the "Comedie Fancaise" (the house of Moliere) playing in: "Le Sicilien" by Lully-Moliere, directed by Jean-Marie Villegier; "La Maison Des Morts" by Philippe Minyana, directed by Robert Cantarella; "Pedro et Le Commandeur" by Felix Lope de Vega, directed by Omar Porras.

Miriam Peretz
Miriam Peretz is an internationally acclaimed performing artist and dance instructor. She was a principle dancer with Inbal Ethnic Dance Theater in Tel Aviv, Israel, and is now assistant artistic director and principle dancer for Ballet Afsaneh where she has been a member since 1998. Miriam specializes in dances from the Silk Road (Persia and Central Asia), Middle-East, North Africa, Roma "Gypsy" trail, and Sacred Dance/Dance Midrash. She has also trained in Flamenco, Hawaiian, West African, Capoeira, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Haitian, Dunham Technique, and various forms of modern dance. Miriam has studied with master teachers from around the world including Egypt, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Tajikistan and Israel. In the bay area she has been privileged to study with - Sharlyn Sawyer, Mahea Uchiyama, Suhaila Salimpour, Nanna Candelaria, Katarina Burda, and Yaelisa. Her studies and extensive work with traditional dance forms has also inspired new innovative work in the realm of Sacred Dance. In the fall of 2008, Miriam's new interfaith performance piece, Miriam's Well, will premiere in the San Francisco Bay Area.


The Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture
The Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture, established initially by the School of Humanities in collaboration with the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, became a campus Center in 2009. The Center serves as a resource for the research, instruction and celebration of Persian history and culture. The Center sponsors conferences, symposia, book launches, film presentations, musical concerts and occasional lectures. The Center also draws on the vibrant local Iranian community for events aimed at the dissemination of Iranian arts and culture.

Farhang Foundation
Farhang Foundation is a non-religious, non-political and not-for-profit foundation established in 2008 to celebrate and promote Iranian art and culture for the benefit of the community at large. The foundation supports a broad range of academic activities in Southern California by funding university programs, publications and conferences. The foundation also supports diverse cultural programs such as the celebration of Nowruz and Mehregan, theater, dance performances, film screenings and poetry reading in Southern California. And, in cooperation with various cultural and academic institutions, Farhang Foundation funds major programs and exhibitions about Iran and its culture. However, the content, viewpoints or biases expressed by individual artists, academics, institutions or events supported by the foundation belong solely to each individual party and do not necessarily reflect the views of Farhang Foundation. For more info visit

... Payvand News - 09/10/12 ... --

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