Dr. Fatemeh Shams

Dr. Fatemeh Shams is a specialist in Persian literature. She earned her Ph.D in Oriental Studies from University of Oxford, Wadham College. Before joining Penn, she has taught Persian language and literature in various academic institutions including University of Oxford, University of SOAS and Courtauld Institute of Art in the United Kingdom. Her work focuses on the intersection of literature, politics and society. Fatemeh is interested in the evolution of poetry and patronage in the Persian literary tradition and the representation and transformation of this relationship in modern Iran. She has published articles and book chapters on poetry, patronage and politics in the Iranian context. Her critical monograph A Revolution in Rhyme: Poetic Co-option Under the Islamic Republic (Oxford University Press, 2021) is the first comprehensive study of the intersection of poetry and politics in post-revolutionary Iran. It investigates the curious tension between poets and patrons in the past and present Iran. It also explores the role of state-sponsored literary institutions and the ideological state apparatus in promoting state-sponsored literature in the post-revolutionary Iran. Shams is currently the Humboldt Foundation-EUME fellow hosted by Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin in 2021-2022 to work her second book project on the work and life of exiled Iranian poets.

Fatemeh is also an internationally acclaimed, award-winning poet and has so far published three collections of poetry in Persian and English. Her first collection, 88 (Berlin: Gardoon, 2012) won the Jaleh Esfahani Poetry Award in London, UK. Her third bilingual collection, When They Broke Down the Door (Washington: Mage Publisher, 2015), translated by the world-famous British literary scholar, translator and poet, Dick Davis, won Latifeh Yarshater Book Award in 2016. Her poetry and her translations have been so far featured in the World Literature Today, Michigan Quarterly Review, Life and Legends, Poetry Foundation, Jacket 2, Penn Sound and more. The upcoming Penguin Anthology of 1000 Years of Poetry by Persian Women Poets translated by Dick Davis (2021) has featured a number of her poems.