James White


Departmental Lecturer in Persian Literature

Faculty / College Address:

Oriental Institute



Research Interests:

My research is concerned with Persian and Arabic poetry composed in the period ca. 950-1900 CE. I study the two corpora as diachronic systems that were created through intertextuality, human networks, and a metatextual body of literary historiography. This means that I close read literary texts themselves, study imagery and rhetoric, and edit poems from manuscript, while also working on the socio-economics of literary production, and the cultural history of poets as a group. As my research concerns two literatures, I am also interested in the intellectual history of comparative literary studies, and in the place of premodern Persian and Arabic literature within world literature.

Current Projects:

Persian and Arabic Literary Communities in the Seventeenth Century: Migrant Poets between Arabia, Iran and India. A study of migration and community formation around the littoral of the Arabian Sea in the mid to late seventeenth century. The first part of the book presents a distant reading of patterns in migration, networks, and the socio-economics of literary production, using data on eleven hundred poets of Arabic and Persian. The following chapters provide case studies of specific literary circles in the Deccan, Yemen, Iran, and North India, using previously unpublished texts that I have brought together from manuscripts now split between collections in India, Iran and Europe.  

Courses Taught:

  • Persian Literature 1000 – 1400.
  • Persian Literature 1400 – 1900.
  • Persian Literature 1900 – The Present.

Recent Publications:

James White