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Reza Taher-Kermani, PhD

Assistant Professor of 18th and 19th Century British Literature (LTA), English

Reza Taher-Kermani, PhD
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 5211

I have two primary academic interests: medieval (classical) Persian poetry as world literature and the literature and culture of nineteenth-century Britain. My scholarship is characterised by a comparative approach to these strands, by an attempt to explore the processes by which medieval Persian poetry was received, represented, and reproduced in English literature of the long nineteenth century.

My contribution to this field thus far includes a monograph,
The Persian Presence in Victorian Poetry (Edinburgh University Press, 2020), and several peer-reviewed articles in academic journals such as Essays in Criticism, The Review of English Studies, Victorian Literature and Culture, Iranian Studies, Translation and Literature, Middle Eastern Literatures, and Victoriographies.

My first book,
The Persian Presence in Victorian Poetry, is a study of the wealth of meaning that Persia held in the Victorian imagination. The book maps out the diversity of perceptions associated with Persia in the nineteenth century through studying the complex network of historical, intellectual, and political contacts that contributed to the formation of its conception in the British cultural imagination. 

My research is informed by diverse modern critical theories, notably postcolonialism and decoloniality, and is rooted in comparative practice across historical periods, languages, and literary genres. In recent years, I have written articles on a range of literary and historical figures (e.g. Firdausi, Omar Khayyam, Attar, Hafiz, Edward FitzGerald, Matthew Arnold, Robert Browning, Edward Byles Cowell, and Ralph Waldo Emerson), as well as material and cultural contexts, including medieval Persian poetry, the British and American appropriation of classical Persian poetry, the history of Anglo-Persian contacts, the repercussions of the politics of the “Great Game” in nineteenth-century English literature, literary translation, cultural adaptation, and literary Orientalism.

I am currently producing, for Oxford University Press, the first critical edition of Edward FitzGerald’s “Bird-Parliament”, his translation of Farid ul-din Attar’s Mantiq ul-Teyr. This edition will include a retelling of the poems origin, an exploration of FitzGerald’s translation strategies, and an analysis of the Persian context of Mantiq ul-Teyr, focusing on its Sufi essence, illustrative schema, and allegorical arrangement.

I am also presently at work on an article that explores the renewed British fascination with the medieval Sufi poet, Hafiz, at the close of the nineteenth century. This article provides fresh insights into the ways in which Hafiz’s poetics resonated with the decadent writers of the Victorian fin de siècle, contributing to my second monograph that will examine the interplay between medieval Persian poetry and the revolutionary spirit of the decadent movement.


University of Sheffield (UK), University of Bristol (UK)



The Bird-Parliament: Edward FitzGerald’s Translation of Attar’s Mantiq ul-Teyr (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2024)

The Persian Presence in Victorian Poetry (Edinburgh University Press, 2020)

Peer-Reviewed Articles

“The Couplet is the Pearl”: Translating Hafiz through Decadence (in progress)

“I Don’t Hear from You”: On Edward Cowell’s Silences (under review)

‘Better a Live Sparrow than a Stuffed Eagle’: On Edward FitzGerald’s ‘Bird-Parliament’”, Essays in Criticism, 72/2 (2022)

Review Essay: Emerson in Iran: The American Appropriation of Persian Poetry”, Iranian Studies, 54/5-6 (2021)

Why the Oxus? On the Majestic River of Arnold’s ‘Sohrab and Rustum’”, The Review of English Studies, 69/289 (2018)

The Rubáiyát: A Labour of Love”, Victoriographies, 7/1 (2017)

A Thin Disguise’: On Robert Browning’s Ferishtah’s Fancies”, Victorian Literature and Culture, 44/2 (2016)

The Persian Presence in Nineteenth-Century English Poetry: A Taxonomy”, Iranian Studies, 49/1 (2016)

Persia by Way of Paris: On Matthew Arnold’s ‘Sohrab and Rustum’”, Middle Eastern Literatures, 18/1 (2015)

FitzGerald’s Anglo-Persian Rubáiyát”, Translation & Literature, 23/3 (2014)

Book Chapters

“Omar Khayyám”, Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism, vol. 239 (Gale, 2023).

Research activities

Research Interests

World Literature/Comparative Literature
Nineteenth-Century English Literature
Medieval Persian Poetry
Empire and Colonialism
Translation Studies

Teaching activities

Over the past two years, I have taught, each year, a selection of seven courses from the following list:

ENGL 665: Studies in Postcolonial Literature
ENGL 454: Advanced Studies in Postcolonial Writing
ENGL 441: Forms of 18th- and 19th-Century Fiction
ENGL 335: Literature of the Victorian Period
ENGL 334: Studies in 19th-Century British Prose
ENGL 332: Studies in 19th-Century British Literature
ENGL 331: 18th- and 19th-Century Writing by Women
ENGL 326: Studies in 18th-Century British Literature
ENGL 262: British Literature from 1660 to 1900
ENGL 235: Short Fiction

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