Hafiz and The School of Love in Classical Persian Poetry

Conference - Introduction

30 March - 1 April 2007
University of Exeter, Exeter

This conference hopes to reveal, through the works of Hafiz, the historical, aesthetic, rhetorical, philosophical and theological bases of his love lyrics in the culture and civilization devoted to the School of Love in mediaeval Persia.

Organised by

University of Exeter and the Iran Heritage Foundation.

Convened by

Dr. Leonard Lewisohn, University of Exeter & Prof. James Morris, Boston College.

Introduction

Recent research into Hafiz's romantic lyricism by Iranian scholars has revealed that in addition to his masterful use of poetic devices and his expertise in rhetoric and imagery, his verse is also deeply steeped in the philosophy and symbolism of the Persian Sufi love mysticism.

The speakers at this conference aim to explore the aesthetic theories and mystical philosophy of the classical Persian love-lyric (ghazal) as exemplified in the poetry of Hafiz, the greatest master of this genre (along with such other major figures as Rumi and Sa'di). To this end, Hafiz's rhetoric of romance will thus be situated-for the first time in the Western study of Persian Literature-within the broader literary context of what scholars refer to as 'Love Theory' in Arabic and Persian poetry in particular and Islamic literature in general. His symbolic vocabulary and lexicon of sophisticated technical terminology relating to wine and intoxication (both sacred and profane) will be analysed in depth, along with such themes as shahidbazi/nazar-bazi (dallying with the Mistress who bears witness to the Divine beauty), Hafiz's dynamic faith of spiritual liberty (rindi); his praise of the 'Law of Love' (shari'at-i 'ishq, whose hero is a kafar-i 'ishq, 'a heretic to the creed of love', referring to the highest degree of the 'religion of love') over the static 'orthodox' vision of ordinary doctrinal Sufism; and the poet's fierce anti-clericalism-his antipathy to figures of exoteric Islamic authority such as the zahid, faqih, and va'iz)-always denigrated and scorned in his verse, while their opposites, the disreputable rake (rind) and qalandar, the Magian master, and the 'arif (gnostic adept), are exalted and praised. Other speakers will examine the views of the famous commentators on his poetry in Safavid Iran, Mughal India and Ottoman Turkey, who interpreted his verse in the context of the 'School of Love' (madhhab-i 'ishq) in classical Persian literature. It is projected that the international roster of Iranian and Western specialists on Persian literature will thus reveal for the first time the historical, aesthetic, rhetorical, philosophical and theological bases of his love lyrics in the culture and civilization devoted to the School of Love in mediaeval Persia.

Exhibition

An exhibition of works by Jila Peacock entitled 'Ten Poems by Hafiz' has been organised in conjunction with the conference. The exhibition consists of silk-screen prints of calligraphic shape poems from Hafez in Persian, alongside their English translations. There will be an official exhibition opening to which all conference participants are invited on Friday 30 March, 2007 from 6.00pm-8.00pm. There will be wine, fruit juice and baklava available.

Registration and Accommodation

The following fee covers all conference sessions (Both days: Saturday and Sunday), Buffet Lunch and Teas/Coffees on both days.

- Full Rate for Conference ONLY: 50 GBP
- Student Rate for Conference ONLY: 25 GBP

The following fee covers all conference sessions (Both days: Saturday and Sunday), Buffet Lunch and Teas/Coffees on both days as well as B&B in an En-Suite Room (for description of the rooms see ‘Travel and Accommodation’ on the left column of this page).

- Full Rate for Conference AND Accommodation (For the nights of 30th and 31st March and 1st April): 200 GBP
- Student rate for Conference AND Accommodation (For the nights of 30th and 31st March and 1st April): 175 GBP

- Full Rate for Conference AND Accommodation (For the nights of 30th and 31st March ONLY): 150 GBP
- Student Rate for Conference AND Accommodation (For the nights of 30th and 31st March ONLY): 125 GBP

- Full Rate for Conference AND Accommodation (For the night of the 31st March ONLY): 100 GBP
- Students Rate for Conference AND Accommodation (For the night of the 31st March ONLY): 75 GBP

Click here for registration and/or accommodation form. You can pay by post, email or on-line through the University of Exeter website.

Publication of proceedings

A volume of the conference's proceedings (edited by the convenors, under the same title as the conference: Hafiz and the School of Love in Classical Persian Poetry) should be ready for publication by 2008.

Enquiries

Miss Laura Scrivens, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, IAIS Building, Stocker Road, Exeter EX4 4ND, Tel +44 (1392) 269250, Fax +44 (1392) 264035, Email: L.Scrivens@exeter.ac.uk, Web: www.exeter.ac.uk/iais.