HDS 3045/RELIGION 1804/PERSIAN 108: Persian Sufi Literature

Instructor: Nicholas Boylston

In this course we will explore the major genres of classical Persian Sufi poetry and prose. In addition to examining the formation of these genres and their contexts of composition, we will pursue a range of broader questions, including: What is Sufism, and how do we discern ‘Sufi’ from ‘non-Sufi’ literature? What have the purposes and functions of literature been in Persianate Islamic contexts? What is the relationship between language, realization and experience Is Persian Sufi literature, and how do authors in the Sufi tradition deal with the problem of ineffability? What is the place of love in Persian Sufi literature and how is it conceptualized? And, how do Persian Sufi authors deal with the diversity inherent in human experience? Readings will include Baba Tahir, Umar Khayyam, Sana’i, Attar, Rumi, Ahmad and Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, Sa’di, Hafez, Fakhr al-Din Iraqi, Shabistari, and Jami. All readings will be in English translation, but there will be an extra section for students with advanced Persian to read texts in the original. Jointly offered in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as Persian 108 and Religion 1804.