Prashant Keshavmurthy

Associate Professor

(on sabbatical leave until September 2024)

I am Associate Professor of Persian-Iranian Studies and have worked in the Institute of Islamic Studies since 2009. I teach across all periods of Persian literature with a specialization in the Persian poetry of pre-colonial South Asia. My first book, Persian Authorship and Canonicity in Late Mughal Delhi: Building an Ark (Routledge, 2016), is a study of poetics and politics in the work of the poet 'Abd al-Qādir Bedil (d.1720) and his circle.

I offer a graduate seminar on pre-modern literary theory and meta-literary discourses called Pre-Modern Persian Literary Criticism; another on Islamicate discourses and practices of selfhood called Autobiography in the Islamic World; and another on Persian epistolography called Inshā: Persian Epistolography. I also teach undergraduate courses on Persian literature in English translation and on the literatures (especially Urdu and Persian) and histories of Islam in South Asia.

Research Interests

My research interests focus on literary canon formation and conceptions of authorship in pre-colonial Persian and Urdu literary traditions; commentarial practices in pre-19th century Persian literary cultures; translation theory, especially as it relates to inter-semiotic translations between Islamic and Indic traditions; and ethical and political thought in late Mughal India. I am currently working on a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded project on ideas of the ethical and political in 17th and 18th century Mughal commentaries on Sa‘di's Gulistān (Rose Garden, 1258).


The undergraduate course I will teach this semester, 'Introduction to Persian Literature' (ISLA 388), introduces students to a selection of verse and prose texts from the 10th to 19th century canon of Persian and concludes in its last quarter with a consideration of Persian novels, stories and poems authored in Iran since the early 20th century. This concluding quarter calls attention to the ways in which literary modernity and modernism in Persian relates in various modes (such as appropriation, ironization, rejection) to the traditional literature studied in the preceding weeks.

Representative Publications

. ‘Khushgu’s Dream: Building an Ark with Ārzu and Bīdil’ in Sabk: Essays on Form, Manner and the Stylistics of Metaphor in Persian and Indo- Persian literatures (Leiden: Brill, 2015).

. Khanbaghi, Aptin, (Ed.) Abstract of ‘Daryā-e latāfat’ and Abstract of ‘Haft tamāshā’ in Muslim Civilizations Abstracts Series, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014).

. ‘The Local Universality of Poetic Pleasure: Sirājuddin ‘Ali Khān Ārzu and the Speaking Subject’ in The Indian Economic and Social History Review, March 2013. Vol. 50 No. 1.

. “Ḡani Kashmiri, Mollā Tāher”, Encyclopedia Iranica, 2013, at

. “Maṯnawī-i mādhavānal-kāmakandalā mausūm ba maḥẓ-i i‘jāz”, Perso-Indica. An Analytical Survey of Persian Works on Indian Learned Traditions, F. Speziale - C. W. Ernst, eds., available at

. “Maṯnawī-i ‘irfān”, Perso-Indica. An Analytical Survey of Persian Works on Indian Learned Traditions, F. Speziale - C. W. Ernst, eds., available at

. “Ārezu, Serāj-al-din ‘Ali Khān”, Encyclopedia Iranica, 2012, at

. Review of Ranjit Hoskote, I, Lalla: the Poems of Lal Ded (Delhi: Penguin, 2011) in South Asian History and Culture, 2012.

. Review of Sunil Sharma and Paul E. Losenksky, In the Bazaar of Love: Selected Poems of Amir Khusrau in Biblio (Delhi: Penguin Books, 2011) (Volume XVII, Nos. 1 & 2, January-February 2012).

. ‘Finitude and the Authorship of Fiction: Muhammad ‘Awfi’s Preface to his Lubab al-albāb (The Piths of Intellects, 1221 C.E.)’ in The Arab Studies Journal, Spring 2011. Vol. XIX No.1.

. Translation from the Persian of ‘A Letter of Grievance from my Wanderings’ by Mirza Asadollah Khan Ghalib in The Last Bungalow: Writings on Allahabad, (Delhi: Penguin India, 2007).

Conference Papers

. “Khushugu’s Dream,” American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) Annual Conference, University of Toronto, April 5-7, 2013.

. “Bidel’s Portrait,” Sixth Biennial Convention of the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies, Bosniak Institute, Sarajevo, September 2-6, 2013.

. Keynote Lecture: "The Local Universality of Poetic Pleasure: Sirajuddin ‘Ali Khan Arzu and Persian Literary Theory" at Zukunftsphilologie: Revisiting the Canons of Textual Scholarship at the Freie University, Berlin, 12 January 2012.





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