Djalal Khaleghi Motlagh’s Women in the Shahnameh: An Introduction

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Dr. Nahid Pirnazar is a lecturer of Iranian Studies at UCLA, teaching the History of Iranian Jews and Judeo-Persian Literature. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA in 2004, in Iranian Studies with an emphasis on Judeo-Persian literature. She has two M.A. degrees, one in 1999 from UCLA in Iranian Studies and the other from Tehran University in English as a Second Language in 1975. In addition, since 1997 to the present time she has been teaching at UCLA, in subjects which include the Persian language and literature from introductory to advanced levels. Dr. Nahid Pirnazar is the founder and president of The House of Judeo-Persian Manuscripts, an academic organization which collects, preserves, transliterates and publishes Judeo-Persian manuscripts. She is also a contributor to the Brill Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World as well as Encyclopedia Iranica. Dr. Nahid Pirnazar has served on the Executive Board of Habib Levy Cultural & Educational Foundation, since 1997, as its Director of Academics, Research & Publications. Her research articles on different aspects of Judeo-Persian literature and the culture and national Identity of Iranian Jews have been reflected in academic publications such as Irano-Judaica, Iranshenasi and Rhavard. She is also a contributor to the Brill Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World as well as Encyclopedia Iranica
This paper will introduce a forthcoming translation into English of “Die Frauen im Schahname,” written by Professor Djalal Khaleghi Motlagh, the renowned Shahnameh scholar, as his Ph.D. dissertation in 1971. The book has been translated from German to English by Dr. Brigitte Neuenschwander, edited by Dr. Nahid Pirnazar and will be published in the coming year, entitled Women of the Shahnameh.
As one of the pioneering Iranian academic scholars focusing on women, Khaleghi presents a different aspect of the Shahnameh to the reader, aside from the kings, heroes and the demons. Not only does he focus on the women in the mythical and heroic parts of our national epic, but he also reflects on the personal life of the main male characters as described by Ferdowsi.
Khaleghi, in displaying the role of women in the Shahnameh, shows his foresight, on Women and Gender Studies issues, which these days are treated as independent fields in many academic institutions. The author has been conducting additional research on the subject through out the years which are translated into Enlgish from Persian and inserted in the text by the editor Dr. Nahid Pirnazar. In addition, the original Persian examples of the poetry used in the text as well as references to later articles of the author in other publications, in relation to the subject, are inserted by the editor. The content of Women of the Shahnameh includes:
1) A clarification of the role of the female gender within the heavenly mythology of Iran; 2) A summary of the stories of the most important women of the Shahnameh, comparing them to others from ancient to medieval sources insofar as they were known and accessible to the author at the time of writing;

3) An outline of the role, importance, and fate of each female character of the Shahnameh in the various periods of their lives, e.g. as a girl, wife, and mother, both within the family framework and society as a whole. Such an approach constitutes a valuable addition to an area of inquiry developing into a significant body of scholarship about Iranian women in English language.

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