HDS 3046/PERSIAN 105: Beyond Akhlāq: Ethical Literatures of the Persianate World

Instructor: Robert Ames

This course offers an overview of the development of classical Persian literature through the lens of ethics (broadly conceived as normative or prudent conduct), from the 10th through 15th centuries. Students will become acquainted with the key themes and beliefs at work in pre-modern Persian literature, and with the variety of literary forms, images and rhetorical devices employed to train the reader.In this course, I aim to illustrate that the medieval and early modern Persianate worlds witnessed a flowering of literary production on normative conduct within a wide variety of literary genres including belles lettres (adab), Sufi prose and poetry, epic poetry, and akhlāq, the genre whose title is normally translated as “ethics.” Although akhlāq is usually translated into English as “ethics,” in light of a broader conception of ethics, akhlāq was only one of many genres dedicated to the subject. Readings on akhlāq will include Tūsī’s Akhlāq-i Nāsirī and Kāshifī’s Akhlāq-i Muhsinī, while readings outside of it will include selections from Ferdowsi’s Shāhnāmah, Sa‘dī’s Gulistān, and Kāshifī’s Futuvvat-nāmah-yi Sultānī.