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MESSAGE FROM DEAN GRILLOT, COLLEGE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES On its eight-year anniversary, I am proud to spotlight the development of the Iranian Studies program at the College of International Studies. Upon becoming Dean in 2012, one of my goals was to enhance the Iranian Studies Program by helping faculty develop new academic opportunities and community outreach activities. Through close collaboration with the Farzaneh family, CIS was able to reach that goal, increasing and expanding the program’s faculty, language courses, library resources and events. With the generous support of the Farzaneh Family — especially our board members Mohammad and Jalal — and OU President David L. Boren, we have built a center of excellence that will make a contribution to the OU student body, the nation and the world for years to come. This publication celebrates the many accomplishments of the Iranian Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and sets us on a path for future development. During the past eight years, the program has served as a model of OU’s international commitment and global perspective. It is fantastic to see all we have accomplished in a short time, but there is still plenty of room to grow. I look forward to an engaged and energetic future for Iranian Studies at OU!


THE FARZANEH FAMILY The establishment of the Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies was made possible with the generous support of Mohammad and Jalal Farzaneh and the Farzaneh Family Foundation. Mohammad and Jalal Farzaneh both received their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture from the University of Oklahoma. They are the founders of Oklahoma’s largest homebuilding company, Home Creations, and currently serve on the Board of Visitors at the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma. For the Farzanehs, the Center is a personal endeavor. Mohammad and Jalal grew up in Iran, first making their way to the United States as young men to study English in Indiana. Once they completed their English language study, they moved on their goal: to study architecture and follow in the footsteps of their father, a successful architect in Iran. On a friend’s recommendation, they chose to apply to OU’s program, a decision that would change their lives. While the brothers originally planned to return to Iran after graduation, it was not to be — the Iranian Revolution was intensifying, and their father lost his business. So they remained in Oklahoma, but struggled to find work due to their Iranian citizenship. Ironically, this obstacle was a catalyst for success: a lack of employment options prompted Mohammad and Jalal to found their own business, Home Creations, in 1981. Though they have been Oklahomans for many years now, the Farzaneh brothers value their Iranian roots, and they make an effort to foster multiculturalism within their housing communities. When they had the opportunity to give back to OU, they dedicated their support to international education, with the goal of affording all students the opportunity to gain international exposure and perspective. Through the Center, they are doing just that and more, funding scholarships and increasing OU’s offerings for students studying Iran and the Middle East. In the spring of 2016, Mohammad and Jalal Farzaneh received the OU Regents’ Alumni Award for their generosity and commitment. Their efforts toward supporting the internationalization of the university will have an impact for many years to come.

MESSAGE FROM THE CENTER DIRECTOR It has been a great honor for me to serve as the first Director of the Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies at OU. Beginning in 2010, it was through the vision and generosity of Mohammad and Jalal Farzaneh, and the support of OU President David L. Boren and Dean Suzette Grillot of the OU College of International Studies, that the seeds were planted for what has become a thriving community of students, faculty and community members dedicated to exploring the rich and complex heritage of Iranian civilization. Since arriving at OU in 2011, I have tried to play a small part in helping to bring that vision to reality. As the newest academic center for Iranian Studies in the United States, the Farzaneh Center has taken on a special mission of bringing knowledge about Iran to the people of Oklahoma and to this region of the country. I invite you to browse through the pages of this eight-year report, and to consider what we have accomplished since our founding. As the Farzaneh Center charts its course for the next eight years, I invite you to join us as we continue to build Iranian Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

STAFF Marjan Seirafi-Pour Farzaneh Family Instructor of Persian and Director of Outreach Programs Sarah Rodden Graduate Assistant Niloufar Soltanmofrad Graduate Assistant Alexandria French Undergraduate Intern Elena Slater Undergraduate Intern ADVISORY BOARD Suzette Grillot Dean and Professor of IAS William J. Crowe, Jr. Chair in Geopolitics Mitchell Smith Associate Dean and Professor of IAS William J. Crowe, Jr. Chair in Geopolitics Alan Levenson Schusterman/Josey Chair of Judaic Studies Mohammad Farzaneh Board of Visitors, College of International Studies Jalal Farzaneh Board of Visitors, College of International Studies Manata Hashemi Assistant Professor, Department of International and Area Studies

Alaxander Jabbari Assistant Professor, Department of International and Area Studies Khosrow Bozorgi Professor, Architecture and Urban Design Marjan Seirafi-Pour Farzaneh Family Instructor for Persian Language AFFILIATED FACULTY Roksana Alavi Assistant Professor, Department of Liberal Studies & Women and Gender Studies Khosrow Bozorgi Professor, Architecture and Urban Design Charles Kimball Professor, Religious Studies Program Gershon Lewenthal Visiting Assistant Professor, Judaic Studies, 2012-2017 Misha Nedeljikovich Professor, Film and Media Studies Zoe Sherinian Associate Professor, School of Music VISITING SCHOLARS Mateo Farzaneh Visiting Associate Professor, January-March 2017 Gershon Lewenthal Visiting Assistant Professor, Iranian Studies, Fall 2017





Afshin Marashi is the Farzaneh Family Chair in Modern Iranian History and Associate Professor in the Department of International and Area Studies. He has served as the Director of the OU Iranian Studies Program since 2011 and the Director of the Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies since 2016. He is a historian of 19th- and 20thcentury Iranian cultural and intellectual history. His first book, Nationalizing Iran: Culture, Power, and the State, 1870-1940, was published in 2008 by the University of Washington Press. He has also published a number of articles and co-edited two collections of essays, Rethinking Iranian Nationalism and Modernity, with Kamran Aghaie (University of Texas Press, 2014), and After the Persianate, with Mana Kia, in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (2016).

Manata Hashemi is the Farzaneh Family Professor of the Sociology of Contemporary Iran and Assistant Professor in the Department of International and Area Studies. Dr. Hashemi joined the Iranian Studies program in 2015, after completing her PhD in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, her MA in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University and her undergraduate degree at Cornell University. Her research focuses on poverty, social stratification and mobility in the Middle East, with a focus on Iran. In addition to her forthcoming book, The Face-Savers: Morality and Mobility in Contemporary Iran, she has co-edited a book with Martin Sánchez-Jankowski, Children in Crisis: Ethnographic Studies in International Contexts (Routledge, 2013). She has also published numerous articles, including in the journals Qualitative Sociology and Muslim World.

Alexander Jabbari is the Farzaneh Family Professor of Persian Language and Literature and Assistant Professor in the Department of International and Area Studies. Since joining the Iranian Studies Program in 2017, Dr. Jabbari has also served as the Coordinator of the Persian Language Program. His research addresses the historical interaction between Persian and other literary and linguistic traditions. He completed his PhD in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, in 2017. Dr. Jabbari is currently working on a number of research projects, including a book manuscript on the emergence of modern literary historiography in Persian and Urdu.

MARJAN SEIRAFI-POUR Marjan Seirafi-Pour is the Farzaneh Family Instructor of Persian and Director of Outreach Programs for the Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies. She has two master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma, one in Educational Psychology and another in Global Studies. She started the Persian language program at OU in the fall of 2013, and since then she has taught first- and second-year Persian courses. In addition to language instruction, Seirafi-Pour organizes all of the Center’s events, outreach programs, institutional collaborations and student activities.

UNVEILING OF THE OMAR KHAYYAM STATUE On March 30, 2016, President David L. Boren unveiled one of OU’s newest pieces of artwork: a statue of the Persian polymath, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and poet of medieval Iran, Omar Khayyam, created by internationally noted sculptor Professor Hossein Fakhimi. The unveiling ceremony coincided with the announcement of a major new gift by Mohammad and Jalal Farzaneh, which would endow three more faculty positions in Iranian Studies, fund additional scholarships and awards and expand the Iranian Studies program into the Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies. The statue is permanently on display outside of the newly renamed “Farzaneh Hall,” which houses the Department of International and Area Studies and the Farzaneh Family Center.

PERSIAN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE PROGRAM AT OU POETRY NIGHT: INSTILLING THE LOVE OF PERSIAN POETRY AT OU For the past several years, students in Marjan Seirafi-Pour’s Persian language courses have organized regular poetry recitation events. This twice-yearly Poetry Night brings students, faculty and community members together in Farzaneh Hall’s Boren Lounge to recite Persian poetry and discuss the heritage of Persian literature.

FARSI FRIDAY Students in Marjan Seirafi-Pour’s Persian language classes regularly meet on Friday afternoons for “Farsi Friday” gatherings. Together students enjoy Iranian tea and sweets, informal conversation in Persian and even cultural activities, such as field trips to local Iranian restaurants. These casual meetings not only strengthen the bonds between our students, but they make learning the language much more fun.

KHAYYAM DAY AT OU Following the unveiling of the Khayyam statue in 2016, undergraduate students in the Iranian Studies program took the initiative to organize the first annual “Omar Khayyam Day at OU,” a campus-wide celebration of Khayyam and the heritage of Persian literature. Coinciding with the spring Nowruz season, OU’s Khayyam Day includes food, poetry, art, calligraphy and special guest lecturers on Khayyam and the Persian literary tradition. Now in its third year, the Khayyam Day celebration is firmly established as one of the most vibrant and enduring traditions of the Farzaneh Center.


In 2015, the OU Academic Senate and the OU Board of Regents approved the Farzaneh Center’s proposal to establish an undergraduate minor in Iranian Studies, offered through the Department of International and Area Studies, College of International Studies. The introduction of the minor recognized the steady growth of course offerings in Iranian Studies at OU. Students can now choose from a diverse and increasing array of courses on the history, culture, politics and society of Iran. Persian language instruction is also an integral part of the Iranian Studies curriculum and an important component of the minor. See to the right the complete listing of current Iran-focused courses.

Language Courses

PERS 1115 Beginner Persian I PERS 1225 Beginner Persian II PERS 2113 Intermediate Persian I PERS 2223 Intermediate Persian II PERS 3003 Advanced Persian PERS 3003 Topics in Persian Literature

Content Courses

IAS 3223 Modern Iran IAS 3403 History of US-Iranian Relations IAS 3413 Iran and Islam to 1800 IAS 3493 Iran Since 1979 IAS 3763 Women and Gender in the Middle East IAS 3683 Poverty and Inequality in the Middle East IAS 3393 Iranian Society Through Cinema IAS 3753 Youth Culture in Contemporary Iran IAS 3003 Persian Literature as World Literature IAS 3003 Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East

SPONSORED RESEARCH The first major research initiative of the Farzaneh Center was the After the Persianate Conference, held on March 7-8, 2014. This two-day interdisciplinary conference brought together a dozen scholars who were pursuing innovative research strategies to historicize the transformations that took place across the Indo-Iranian world during the 19th and 20th centuries. Participants included scholars from UCLA, UC-San Diego, UC-Irvine, the University of Arizona, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Toronto, Harvard University and Columbia University. A group of papers from the conference was published in the December 2016 issue of the journal Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. DĀNESH: The OU Undergraduate Journal of Iranian Studies began publication in 2016. As the curriculum of the undergraduate Iranian Studies program developed, a number of students grew interested in taking their scholarship to the next level. On the initiative of these students, the peer-reviewed undergraduate journal was launched in the fall of 2015 and published its first issue in January 2016. The journal’s first editors, Andrew Akhlaghi (MA, 2016) and Elena Gharipour (BA, 2016), led a team of associate editors, who collectively solicited, reviewed, edited and prepared the journal for publication. DĀNESH was a pioneering endeavor: it was the first undergraduate journal of Iranian Studies to be published in North America. The founders chose to name the journal “DĀNESH,” which means “knowledge” in Persian, to capture the spirit that prompted it: the quest to learn more about this interesting part of the world. The journal has now published three volumes, and continues to be an exciting forum for undergraduate research in the field of Iranian Studies at OU.

PERSIAN LIBRARY DONATIONS AND ACQUISITIONS LIMITED EDITION OF SHAH TAHMASP SHAHNAMEH Mohammad and Jalal Farzaneh have donated a special limited edition leatherbound reprint of the epic masterpiece the Shahnameh, originally written in the 10th century by the renowned Persian poet Ferdowsi. The reprint edition is based on the historic 16th-century illuminated manuscript commissioned by the Safavid Shah Tahmasp. The book donation marks another major addition to the Farzaneh Center’s growing library collection. COMMUNITY DONATIONS TO THE IRANIAN STUDIES LIBRARY The collection of Persian language books and periodicals held at OU’s Bizzell Library has grown immensely in the past eight years, all due to the generosity of our community members. We would like to thank the Etemad family, the Alavi family, Marjan SeirafiPour, Houshang Mohammadzadeh, Shaul Bakash, Fatemeh Shariati and Mohammad Hajisadeghi for their support in making Persian literature and scholarship more accessible to our students, faculty and community. PURCHASE OF DEHKHODA ENCYCLOPEDIA In the fall of 2016, the Farzaneh Center purchased a complete edition of Ali-Akbar Dehkhoda’s 50-volume encyclopedia of the Persian language, the Loghatnameh. This monumental work of lexicography and cultural history is the cornerstone of any academic program in Iranian Studies, and it is a necessary and welcome addition to the Farzaneh Center’s growing library collection.

AWARDS AND SCHOLARSHIPS The Farzaneh Center sponsors a number of awards and scholarships each academic year, including language scholarships, the award for the best undergraduate paper in Iranian Studies, scholarships for students who are citizens of Iran and scholarships for students seeking to promote friendship between the people of Iran and America. Recent recipients are listed below. MEHDI FIROOZABADI SCHOLARSHIP Ariya Siddiqui Andrew Akhlaghi Elizabeth Enninga Aubrey Crynes

Jared Johnson, “Iran’s Others Through Cinema,” 2017

FARZANEH FAMILY SCHOLARSHIPS FOR IRANIAN STUDENTS Alireza Abdihamzehkolaei Mahdi Afkhamiaghda Nima Ferdosi Nafiseh Ghorbani Ranani Mohammad Hossein Golbon Haghighi Mohammad Hadikhan Tehrani Sara Hajirezaie Morteza Heidari Younes Mahdavi Akram Mahdaviparsa Seyedehnafiseh Mirniaharikandehei Mohammad Naghashnejad Soha Rangie Sogol Salary Kwestan Salimi Niloufar Soltanimofrad Nicole Djounbo Takam Abolfazl Zargari Khuzani Arman Yaghoobi Kachooie Salimch Abedini Birang Moslem Parvin Seyedeh Zahra Sadri Tabaee Dejie Lu Faranak Aghaei Nazanin Morshedlou Tajik FARZANEH FAMILY PERSIAN LANGUAGE SCHOLARSHIPS Yannick Davidson Nahall Mansouri Jessamine Nazari Ryan Nazari Hannah Pirasteh


Shawdy Saheb Corey Standley Aubrey Crynes Kiana Taghizadeh

Daniel Holland, “Bending Without Breaking: Zoroastrianism Through the Years,” 2016 Patrick Weigant, “Unlikely Compromise: A History and Analysis of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal,” 2015 Arianna Pickard, “The Persian Press: Finding a Voice Throughout Two Revolutions,” 2014 Sama Astani, “The Persecution of Baha’is: The Pahlavi Dynasty and the Islamic Repulic of Iran,” 2013 (tie) Alex Cowden, “The Strangling of the American Task in Persia: Mind, Morals, and Misgovernment,” 2013 (tie) Parker Selby, “The Power Behind the Pulpit: The Rise of the Revolutionary Guard,” 2012




Elizabeth “Libby” Ennenga received her BA degree in International and Area Studies with a minor in Iranian Studies in May 2017. One of the first undergraduate students to complete the minor in Iranian Studies, Libby’s undergraduate focus was on modern Iranian history and society. She also completed two years of intensive Persian language instruction, and played a leadership role as the second editor of DĀNESH. Upon graduation, Libby was accepted into the MA program in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, and she was recently awarded the US State Department’s prestigious Critical Language Scholarship to study Persian this summer in Tajikistan.

Andrew Akhlaghi received a master’s degree with a specialization in modern Iranian history from the Department of International and Area Studies in May 2016. His MA thesis focused on the historiography of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 19051911. Andrew thrived throughout his time at OU, particularly as one of the initial editorial founders of DĀNESH: The OU Undergraduate Journal of Iranian Studies. In addition to his scholarship on Iran, he also studied Persian language, making considerable progress during his OU career. Upon completing his MA thesis, Andrew was accepted into the PhD program in history at the University of Texas, Austin, where he is currently embarking on his dissertation research.

COLLABORATIONS OU SCHOOL OF MUSIC The Farzaneh Center’s most important collaboration during the past eight years has been with the OU School of Music’s “Masala World Music” Concert Series. Professor Zoe Sherinian of the OU School of Music, an affiliated faculty member of the Farzaneh Center, leads the collaboration to organize the annual “Persian Nowruz Music Concert.” The concert brings world-renowned musicians to the OU campus each March to perform classical Persian music during the Iranian New Year festival. Past concerts have included the Maestro Hossein Alizadeh, Sepideh Raissadat, Hossein Omoumi and numerous others.

OKLAHOMA CITY MUSEUM OF ART The Farzaneh Center has worked with the Oklahoma City Museum of Art over the years to sponsor film events, including screenings, roundtable discussions and keynote lectures, most notably by renowned Iranian film scholar Hamid Naficy.

DIGITAL RESEARCH INITIATIVE WITH UC-IRVINE In collaboration with the University of California, Irvine’s Jordan Center for Persian Studies, the Farzaneh Center has launched an initiative to digitize the print-run of the Nameh-ye Iran-e Bastan: The International Journal of Ancient Iranian Studies. The bilingual English-Persian journal, specializing in the history, culture, languages and archaeology of ancient Iran, was published from 2001-2014 under the editorship of Dr. Touraj Daryaee. The digitization of this journal will be accompanied by an online platform hosted by OU, making this resource available to students, scholars and the general public from around the world.

LECTURES, KEYNOTES, ROUNDTABLES AND VISITING SPEAKERS The Farzaneh Center hosts an ongoing series of events during each academic year. Throughout the past eight years, the Center has hosted over 60 lectures, keynotes, symposia, roundtables and visiting speakers. These events have focused on topics including ancient Iranian history, art and literature, social and cultural change in contemporary Iran and the ongoing politics and diplomacy of US-Iranian relations.




729 Elm Ave. Farzaneh Hall, Room 319 Norman, OK 73019 Website: Facebook: @ farzanehfamilycenter

Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies  
Farzaneh Family Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies