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Modern Persian in Cultural Context - What Really Goes on in Iran Today


Admission requirements

Students who have completed all the language acquisition courses in year one and two are qualified to take the course.


Iran, a country with a population of approximately 82 million, is a short-term society meaning that the society and all its aspects, such as culture, religion, politics, etc, are changing rapidly. These changes happen first of all through the language; new words and terms enter Persian. This new vocabulary either come from other languages in the form of loan words, or they existed before in the language as obsolete words and have now been revived. There are also a group of words and phrases that are completely brand-new. For a researcher who works on Iran’s history, society, and culture, it is vital to understand this vocabulary and the milieu where they appeared. This course investigates various aspects of culture, such as political culture, religious culture, social culture, etc, with an emphasis on the type of the language used in each case. The students will be given various materials from written sources, such as novels, newspapers, and magazines, as well as other sources, like movies, shows, and videos. These materials will be discussed, analyzed, and translated.

Course objectives

Students taking this course will:

  • Be able to read and understand specialized Persian materials with regard to their cultural contexts

  • Grasp an understanding of how Iranian cultural thinking was developed over the centuries

  • Gain a knowledge about the Persian sources and how to access them

  • Be able to follow and hold a conversation about advanced cultural and political topics in Persian


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Assessment method


Attendance and participation: 20%
Homeworks, assignments, and quizes: 30%
Mid-term: 20%
Final exam: 30%


A resit exam will be available for 80%, replacing the grades for homework, mid-term exam and final exam.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Compulsory Readings:
1. Daniel, Elton & Ali Akbar Mahdi, Culture and Customs of Iran (Westport & London: Greenwood Press, 2006).
2. Articles for each session (announced before the first session)

Leisurely Readings: (recommended to be read before the course starts):

  • Satrapi, Marjane, Persepolis I & II (London: Jonathan Cape, 2006)

  • Navai, Ramita, City of Lies: Love, Sex, death, and the Search for Truth in Tehran (London: Wiedenfeld & Nicolson, 2014)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.


S. Mirahmadi MA


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).