Testimonial by Ed Shawe-Taylor

M.Phil., Islamic Art and Architecture, University of Oxford, UK

2 weeks 2023 Learn Persian Through the Shahname

I enrolled in the "Learn Persian Through the Shahnameh" course, having just completed the first year of a university course in modern Persian. I still felt like a beginner and had very little experience with any Classical Persian. 

The course was brilliant!

When I began looking at the text from the Shahnameh, I had no idea how to start translating it, but by the end of the course, I was able to translate it quickly and freely, often without requiring any assistance at all.

I cannot imagine a more learned and erudite teacher than Ruben. His knowledge of the Shahnameh as a literary text was staggering, and perhaps even more impressive was his linguistic understanding of the Iranian and Indo-European languages. His ability to trace words back to their Middle Persian roots was fascinating. The process made me retain vocabulary far better and gain a deeper understanding of the language of the Shahnameh and Persian generally. Despite his frightening level of knowledge, Ruben always explained the language and the grammar so clearly and intelligibly, making the translation of this 1000-year-old classic an achievable goal for newer learners. As a student of Islamic material culture, I also appreciated the inclusion of manuscripts in our sessions and discussions, looking at Shahnameh manuscripts from the earliest surviving text, now in Florence, to later notable illustrated manuscripts such as Baysunghur and Shah Tahmasp’s famous editions. 

I cannot recommend this course enough to anyone interested in broadening their understanding of classical Persian. For me, there is no better way to advance your knowledge of a language than through engagement with its great literary works - and this course allowed me to do just that!

Interested? Check Upcoming Persian Language Courses!

Our Persian language courses are open to anyone with upper elementary or intermediate knowledge of the Persian language. The lectures are organized with the academic interests of our participants in mind. Students as well as researchers working in Iranian Studies and relevant fields will benefit the most from our courses.

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Other Testimonials.

Modje Taavon

Ph.D. Student, Comparative and World Literature, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA

“The Aspirantum Shāhnāmeh class has been one of the saving graces of my graduate career. I would recommend this course to any student of Persian poetry or lover of Persian literature, and I look forward to future courses.”

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Eva Kuras

PhD student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

“The “Learn Persian through the Shahname” course was an invaluable experience. The instructor used his deep knowledge of the Persian language, the Shahname itself, and a little linguistics to help us navigate important passages of the text.”

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Rachel Goshgarian

Associate Professor, Lafayette College, USA

“I was able to improve my Persian significantly while studying one of the most significant texts of medieval Iran and had fun being a part of the positive online learning community.”

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