Importing Arts with a Persian Panache

The establishment of the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies galvanized scholarly and artistic interests in Iran’s civilization.  The Program’s course offerings present an interdisciplinary approach to Iranian Studies through language, literature, economics, and political science.  Under the directorship of Abbas Milani, Stanford faculty member, Shah biographer, and public intellectual, the Program has fostered Iran’s rich tradition of artistic achievement.  Milani has invited guest scholars, writers, and artists to present conferences, symposia, forums, lectures, and performances for Stanford affiliates, local Iranian communities, and the general public.  Milani acknowledges Stanford’s instrumental role in the importation of these programs and individuals: “In terms of our role in the arts, I can say, without hesitation, that no institution anywhere outside Iran has hosted as many of Iran’s foremost writers, poets, filmmakers, architects, and musical masters.”

In the fall of 2011, Paris-based Iranian dancer and choreographer Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam performed Arash: Old Legend, New Life, a contemporary dance rendition of Iranian poetry and mythology.  The acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Bahram Beyzaie came to Stanford as the Bita Daryabari Visiting Professor of Persian Studies in 2010, and has since taught a series of courses and workshops on the history of Iranian cinema.  Last summer, he directed and produced an Iranian shadow puppet play, Jana and Baladoor, which recounts the battles between mythic heroes and dark demons.  According to Milani, Beyzaie “revived a kind of shadow play extinct in Iran for seven hundred years.”  In January of 2013, the Program will offer a workshop on the history of Iranian music led by Mohsen Namjoo, an Iranian singer, songwriter, musician, and music scholar.

Bios: Hamid Moghadam – Stanford alumnus (MBA, 1980) who has continued to contribute to the university’s intellectual growth as a generous donor.  Moghadam has served on Stanford’s Board of Trustees and co-founded the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution.  Together with his wife Christina (class of 1978), he established the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies in 2003.

Abbas Milani – Director of the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies and Professor (by courtesy) of International, Comparative, and Area Studies.  Milani specializes in U.S.-Iran relations as well as Iranian cultural, political, and security issues.  He co-founded and co-directed the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution, and has published more than twenty books and two hundred articles in scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers.


Preview of Beyzaie’s ‘Jana and Baladoor’.

Featured image: poster for Bahram Beyzaie’s 2012 production of Jana and Baladoor, an Iranian shadow puppet play