Fatemah Shams

Penn Humanities Forum Faculty Fellow

20172018 Forum on Afterlives

Fatemah Shams

Assistant Professor of Modern Persian Literature, Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, University of Pennsylvania

Fatemeh Shams is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds degrees from Tehran University (Iran), Aga-Khan University (UK), and Oxford University (UK). She previously taught at the University of Oxford), School of Oriental and Afrian Studies (SOAS) and Courtauld Institute of Somerset House (London). She has published articles and book chapters on the official literature and cultural institutions under the Islamic Republic, contemporary Persian literature and social history of Persian literature. Her forthcoming book “A Revolution in Rhyme: Official Poets of the Islamic Republic” (Oxford University Press, 2018) is particularly concerned with the relationship between the state and the literati with specific reference to post-revolutionary Iran. Beside her academic expertise, she is also a published poet. So far, Shams has published three poetry collections and won a number of prestigious literary awards.

Poetry, Graveyards, and the Afterlife in Contemporary Iran

Iran holds a long tradition of epitaph poetry through which one can better understand the ways in which Iranians perceive the notion of afterlife. A short walk through different sections of in major cemeteries across Iran highlights a powerfully intertwined relationship between death and poetry in the Persian culture. The present project aims to delve into this fascinating yet understudied subject for the first time in order shed some light on the complex and multifaceted notion of the afterlife in the minds of the Iranians. The project presents a wide range of gravestone poems in different categories based on their depiction of the notion of afterlife.