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Farzaneh Milani

Raymond J Nelson Professor

Office Address: 131 New Cabell Hall Charlottesville, VA 22903
Office Hours: On leave Fall 2023

Background and Interests

Farzaneh Milani completed her graduate studies in Comparative Literature at the University of California in Los Angeles in 1979. Her dissertation, “Forugh Farrokhzad: A Feminist Perspective” is a critical study of the poetry of a pioneering Iranian poet. A past president of the Association of Middle Eastern Women Studies in America, Milani was the recipient of the All University Teaching Award in 1998 and nominated for Virginia Faculty of the Year in 1999.

Milani has published over 100 articles, epilogues, forewords, and afterwords in Persian and in English. She has served as the guest editor for two special issues of Nimeye-Digar, Persian Language Feminist Journal (on Simin Daneshvar and Simin Behbahani), IranNameh (on Simin Behbahani), and Iranian Studies: Journal of the International Society for Iranian Studies (on Simin Behbahani). She has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Ms. Magazine, Readers Digest, USA Today, and N.P.R.’s All Things Considered. She has presented more than 250 lectures nationally and internationally. A former Chair of the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures and former director of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Department, Milani was also a Carnegie Fellow (2006-2007).


  • 1975-79  Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Comparative Literature - Concentration: Persian, French, and English Literature - Dissertation title: Forugh Farrokhzad: A Feminist Perspective
  • 1973-75  M.A., University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Comparative Literature - Concentration: Persian and French Literature.
  • 1968-70  B.A., (Magna cum laude) French Literature, California State University Hayward.

Employment History

  • 2010- 2018 Chair, Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures
  • 2010-2014 Director, Middle East Studies Program
  • 2009-2010 McAndless Distinguished Chair, Eastern Michigan University
  • 2003-2006 Director, Women, Gender, and Sexuality
  • 2003-         Professor of Iranian Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality
  • 2000-2001 Interim Director, Women, Gender, and Sexuality
  • 1992-2007 Coordinator, Persian Program
  • 1992-2003 Associate Professor of Iranian Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality
  • 1986-1992 Assistant Professor of Iranian Studies, University of Virginia
  • 1984-1986 Lecturer, Persian Language and Literature, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 1979-1981 Lecturer, Persian Language and Literature, University of California, Los Angeles

Selected Awards

  • Zintl Leadership Award, University of Virginia, 2015
  • Chosen as one the top 26 Women Professors in Virginia
  • Raymond J. Nelson Endowed Chair of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures
  • Latifeh Yarshater Book Award for Words Not Swords: Iranian Women Writers and the Freedom of Movement, presented by the International Society for Iranian Studies.
  • Iranian Woman of the Year, 2012, International Iranian Women’s Studies Foundation (Ceremony: June 15, 2012 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston)
  • Lois Roth Literary Award in Translation for A Cup of Sin: Selected Poems of Simin Behbahani (with Kaveh Safa).
  • Carnegie Scholar, 2006-2007.
  • Mirhady Endowed Lecture Chair, Simon Fraser University, Canada, 2005
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, 2002-2003.
  • University Seminar's Teaching Award, 2001.
  • Storr's Fellowship, 2001.
  • Nominated: Virginia Teacher of the Year Award, 1999.
  • All University Outstanding Teaching Award, University of Virginia, 1998.

Selected Publications

Books in English

  • Captive, Forugh Farrokhzad, translated and edited by Farzaneh Milani, New York: Rhombus Press, (forthcoming 2017);
  • Words, Not Swords: Iranian Women Writers and the Freedom of Movement (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, May 2011); translated into French by Jalal Alavinia and Thérèse Marini, Les Mots
  • Sont Mes Armes: les femmes écrivains iraniennes et la liberté de mouvement, (Paris: Les Lettres Persanes, March 2012);
  • A Cup of Sin: Selected Poems of Simin Behbahani with Kaveh Safa, (New York: Syracuse University Press, 1999);
  • Veils and Words: The Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers (New York: Syracuse University Press, 1992 and 1994; and London: I.B. Taurus, 1992 and 1994).

Books in Persian

  • Forugh Farrokhzad: A Literary Biography with Unpublished Letters (Toronto, Canada: The Persian Circle Press, September 2016).

Guest Editor: Persian and English Journals

  • The Journal of Iranian Studies, Vol. 41, no. 1, February 2008;
  • Iran Nameh: a Journal of Iranian Studies, Special issues on Simin Behbahani, Vol. 23, no. 1 and 2, spring/summer 2006;
  • Nimeye Digar: Special Issue on Simin Behbahani, no. 1, autumn 1993;
  • Nimeye Digar: Special Issue on Simin Daneshvar, Vol.1, no. 8, fall 1988.

Poems (in Persian and English)

  • The Forbidden: Poems from Iran and Its Exiles;
  • Women in Sufism: A Hidden Treasure;
  • Iris: A Magazine for Thinking Young Women;
  • Atlanta Review;
  • Nimeye Digar;
  • Par;
  • Barrayand;
  • Daneshj;
  • Omid;
  • Avaye Portland.

Articles and Book Chapters in English

  • “A Revolution within Two Revolutions: Women and Literature in Contemporary Iran, Inside the Islamic Republic: Social Change in Post Khomeini Iran", editor, Mahmood Monshipouri, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp.113-131;
  • “The Haunting Obituary of a Dying Patriarch: A Separation,” Iranian Cinema in a Global Context: Policy, Politics, and Form, eds. Peter Decherney and Blake Atwood, New York and London: Routledge, 2015, pp. 208-212;
  • “The Roar of the Lioness: Iranian poet Simin Behbahani knew her voice was her strongest weapon against oppression,” Virginia: The U.Va. Magazine, winter 2014, p. 57;
  • “Emmuree dans l’anonymat, voile d’ambiguite,” a translated preface to Tahereh leve le voile, Poèmes choisis et traduits du persane par Jalal Alavinia et Thérèse Marini, Paris: L’Harmattan, 2014, pp.9-29;
  • “Iranian Women’s Life Narratives,” Journal of Women’s History, summer 2013; Vol. 25 No.2, 130-152;
  • “The Visual Poetry of Forugh Farrokhzad in The House Is Black,” Converging Zones: Persian Literary Tradition and the Writing of History, Studies in Honor of Amin Banani, ed. Wali Ahmadi, (Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2012), pp. 260-279;
  • “The Iranian Factor: Comments and Discussion,” Troubled Triangle: The United States, Turkey, and Israel in the New Middle East, ed. William B. Quandt (Charlottesville, Virginia: Just World Publishing, 2011), pp. 152-154;
  • "Foreign Autobiographies," Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau, Project Editors (Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2010), pp. 355-361;
  • "Fariba Vafi and Her Bird: On Pens and Feathers," Afterword to My Bird by Fariba Vafi, translated by Mahnaz Kousha and Nasrin Jewell (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2009), pp.133-150;
  • "Re-mapping the Cultural Geography of Iran: Islam, Women, and Freedom of Movement," Forum on Public Policy, Equity at the Intersection of Women's Mobility, Identity and Discourse, ed. Lisa Driscoll, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2008, Lead article, pp. 9- 22;
  • “Best Sellers and Half-Truths: Misreading Iran in America,” What Should I Read Next? Eds. Jessica Feldman and Robert Stilling (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008), pp. 13-16;
  • "On Women's Captivity in the Islamic World," Middle East Report, spring 2008, Number 246, pp. 40-46. Also available on: and Payvand Iran News;
  • “Simin Behbahani: Iran’s National Poet,” The Journal of Iranian Studies, Vol. 41, no. 1, February 2008;
  • “Yeki Bud, Yeki Nabud,” Autobiographical Themes in Turkish Literature: Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives, eds. Olcay Akyildiz, Halim Kara, Borte Sagaster (Istanbul: OrientalInstitut, 2007), pp. 219-225;
  • “Simin Behbahani,” Strange Times, My Dear: The Pen Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature, eds. Nahid Mozaffari and Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak (New York: Arcade Publishing, 2005), pp.378-382;
  • “Becoming a Presence: Tahereh Quorratol’Ayn,” Tahirih in History: Perspectives on Qurratu’l-‘Ayn from East and West, ed. Sabir Afaqi (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 2004), pp.159-183. (A reprint of a chapter of Veils and Words: The emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers);
  • “Epilogue,” Four Poems by Partow Nooriala (Los Angeles: Sinbad Publications, 2004), pp. 5-7;
  • “On Walls, Veils, and Silences: Writing Lives in Iran,” The Southern Review, summer 2002, Vol. 38, no. 3;
  • “The Visual Poetry of Shirin Neshat,” Introduction to Shirin Neshat (Milan, Italy: Charta, May 2001[translated into Italian as “Il Velo Svelato”]), pp. 6-21;
  • “Gender Relations in Persia,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, ed. Ehsan Yarshater, Vol. X, Fascicle 4, 2000, pp. 405-411;
  • “The Politics and Poetics of Sex Segregation in Persian Romances,” Discourse on Gender/Gendered Discourse in the Middle East, ed. Boaz Shoshan (Westport: Praeger, 2000), pp. 1-14, 136-141;
  • “Banu: a new poem by Simin Behbahani,” translated with Kaveh Safa, Archipelago: An Online International Journal of Literature, the Arts, and Opinion, winter 2000;
  • “Garden Conquered” and “I Sinned” poems by Forugh Farrokhzad, translated by Farzaneh Milani, Women and Sexuality in Muslim Societies, ed. Pinar Ilkkaracan (Istanbul, Turkey: Women fo Women’s Human Rights, 2000), pp. 145-147;
  • “The Mediatory Guile of the Nanny in Persian Romances,” Iranian Studies, Vol. 32, no. 2, 1999, pp.181-201;
  • “The Deportation of Barbie from Iran,” Iris: A Journal about Women, no. 38, Winter/Spring 1999, pp. 16-20;
  • “Voyeurs, Nannies, Winds, and Gypsies in Persian Literature,” Critique: Journal for Critical Studies of the Middle East, no. 14, spring 1999, pp. 107-123;
  • “Farrokhzad, Forugh-Zaman,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, ed. Ehsan Yarshater, Vol. IX, Fascicle 3, 1999, pp. 324-327;
  • “Pistachios, Camels, and Cement Blocks: The Familiar and the Shock of the New in Behbahani’s Ghazals,” with Kaveh Safa, Iranian Studies, Special Issue on Modern Persian Literature, Vol. 30, no. 3-4, Summer/Fall 1997, pp. 295-300;
  • “Simin Behbahani: A Few Poems,” The Muslim World, Special Issue on Women in the Islamic Maelstrom, Vol. LXXXVI, no. 2, April 1996;
  • “Judith Shakespeare and Parviz E'tessami,” Once a Dewdrop Accosted A Rose: Essays on the Poetry of Parvin E'tessami, ed. Heshmet Moayyad (Costa Mesa: Mazda), 1995;
  • “Poems by Simin Behbahani” translated by Kaveh Safa and Farzaneh Milani, Edibiyat, Vol. 6, 1995;
  • “Interviews with Afaf Lutfi Marsot and Nikki Keddie,” Approaches to the History of the Middle East: Interviews with Leading Middle East Historians, ed. Nancy E. Gallagher (U.K.: Ithaca Press,​
  • “The Birth of Neotraditionalism in Post-Revolutionary Iranian Women Writers,” Reconstructing Gender in the Middle East: Tradition, Identity and Power, Eds. Fatima Muge Gocek and Shiva Balaghi (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994);
  • “Hanan al-Shaykh's Life Stories,” AMEWS, Vol. 9, no.4, December 1994;
  • “Shaherzad Unveiled: Women Writers in Post-Revolutionary Iran,” Introduction to Stories by Iranian Women since the Revolution, trans. Soraya Sullivan (Austin: University of Texas Press
  • “Veiled Voices: Women's Autobiographies in Iran.” Women's Autobiographies in Contemporary Iran, ed. Afsaneh Najmabadi (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 1990);
  • “Nakedness Regained: Farrokhzod's Garden of Eden,” Literature East and West, Guest Editor Michael Hillmann, Vol. 24, 1989;
  • “Forugh Farrokhzad,” Persian Literature, Persian Heritage Series, ed. Ehsan Yarshater (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), pp. 367-380;
  • “Power, Prudence, and Print: Daneshvar and Self-Censorship,” Iranian Studies, Vol. 18, no. 1, 1986, pp. 325-347;
  • “Conflicts between Traditional Roles and Poetry,” Women and the Family in Iran, ed. Asghar Fathi (Leiden, Netherlands and Boston: E.J. Brill, 1985), pp. 226-237;
  • “Formation, Confrontation, and Emancipation in the Poetry of Forugh Farrokhzad,” trans. David Martin, A Rebirth (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishing, 1985 and 1997 (reprint)), pp.123-133;
  • “Conformity and Confrontation: A Comparison of Two Iranian Women Poets,” Women and the Family in the Middle East: New Voices of Change, ed. Elizabeth Fernea (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985), pp.317-330;
  • “Revitalization: Some Reflections on the Poetry of Taherah Saffar-Zadeh,” Women and Revolution in Iran, ed. Guity Nashat (Boulder: Westview Press, 1983), pp. 129-140;
  • “Love and Sexuality in the Poetry of Farrokhzad: A Reconsideration,” Iranian Studies, Vol. 15, no. 1-4, 1982;
  • “Forugh Farrokhzad: A Feminist Perspective,” an afterword to Bride of Acacias (Colorado: Caravan Press, 1982), pp. 141-147.

Articles and Book Chapters in Persian

  • “Two Biographies, One Literary Masterpiece, Fakhr Ozma Argun and Her Daughter,” Iran Nameh: a Journal of Iranian Studies, (V. 28. No 1, February 2013);
  • "Remember Flight: The Bird is Mortal," Rahavard: Journal of Iranian Studies, winter 2009, No. 85, pp. 34-42;
  • "Shahrnush Parsipur: A Multicultural Novelist," in A Cross-generational Perspective: Achievements and Challenges of Iranian Women, ed. Golnaz Amin (Cambridge, MA: Iranian Women's Studies Foundation, 2008), pp. 40-47;
  • “The Rainbow World of Simin Behbahani,” Iran Nameh: a Journal of Iranian Studies, Special Issue on Simin Behbahani, Vol. 23, no. 1 and 2, spring/summer 2006, pp. 9-24;
  •  “Images of Men in Persian Literature,” Montreal Lectures: On Iranian Literature and Culture, ed. Reza Farokhfal (Montreal: Lithcom, 2005), pp. 263-277;
  • “An Interview with Farzaneh Milani,” Zanan, Vol. 13, no. 121, June 2005, pp. 57-63;
  • “Why Kill a Cat in the Nuptial Chamber?” Zanan, Vol. 13, no. 118, March 2005, pp. 58-63;
  • “Az har dari Sokhani: Farzaneh Milani’s conversation with Simin Behbahani,” [Chit-chat: Farzaneh Milani’s conversation with Simin Behbahani], A Woman with a Skirtful of Poetry, Teheran, Negah, 2004, pp. 576-591;
  • “Tahereh Quoratol-Ayn: A Precursor of Women’s Liberation in Iran,” Khoosh-i Ha’i az Kharman-I Adab va Honar, [Persian Arts and Letters in the Twentieth Century,] Landegg Academy, Switzerland, Vol. 12 summer 2001, pp. 115-126;
  • “The Exile of the Female Nightingale from the ‘Land of the Rose and the Nightingale,’” Khoosh-I Ha’i az Kharman-i Adab va Honar, [Persian Arts and Letters in the Twentieth Century], Landegg Academy, Switzerland, Vol. 12 summer 2001. pp. 127-142; and Iran Nameh, Vol. XVIII, no. 3, summer 2000, pp. 213-230;
  • “Conversation with Simin Behbahani,” Yad-e Ba’zi Nafarat, (Tehran: Alborz Publishing, 1999), pp. 820-836;
  • “Love and Sexuality in the Poetry of Forugh Farrokhzad: A Reconsideration,” Shahrzad: A Persian Journal of Literature and Art, translated from English by Marjan Panahi Nejad, Vol. 2, no. 3, Autumn 1999, pp. 10-26;
  • “The Life and Poetry of Simin Behbahani,” The Iranian Woman and Modernity, ed. Golnaz Amin, (Cambridge: Instant Printing, 1999), pp.12-23;
  • “Simin Behbahani,” Ava: eko av Poesi och Litteratur, Sweden, Vol. 8, October 1999, pp. 68-76;
  • “Writing Women's Lives in Iran,” Iran Nameh, Special Issue on Iranian Memoirs, Vol. XIV, no. 4, Fall 1996, pp. 611-638;
  • “Women, Literature, and Politics: Goli Taragghi and Simin Behbahani,” Women and Politics in Contemporary Iran, eds. Golnaz Amin and Homa Sarshar, 1995, pp. 144-153;
  • “A Lamp of Forty Lights in Darkness and Silence: Men's Unveiling in Farrokhzad's Poetry,” Daftare Honar, Vol. 1, no. 2, September 1994;
  • “The Veil and its Effect on Women's Voice and Literature,” Avaye Zan, Sweden, July 1994;
  • “From Object to Subject in Literary and Visual Representations,” Iran Nameh. Vol. 12, no.1, winter 1994. pp. 51-80;
  • “An Audience with Shahrnush Parsipour,” Iran Nameh, Vol. 11, no. 4, fall 1993, pp. 691-704;
  • “A Hand Full of Stars,” Nimeye Digar, Vol. 2, no.1, autumn 1993, pp.37-62;
  • “An Audience with Simin Behbahani,” Nimeye Digar, Vol. 2, no. 1, autumn 1993, pp. 177-191;
  • “Pull Back the Curtain, Let Emotions Breathe,” Nimeye Digar, Vol. 1, no. 15/16, autumn 1991/winter 1992, pp. 56-61;
  • “Post-Revolutionary Iranian Women Writers,” Nimeye Digar, Vol. 1, no. 14, spring 1991, pp. 111-
  • “Woman's Body as Sign and Symbol: Veiling and Foot Binding,” Iran Nameh, Vol. 8, no. 2, spring 1990, pp. 246-260;
  • “Prometheus and Exile,” Iran Nameh, Vol. 8, no. 1, winter 1990, pp. 116-124;
  • “From Gestation to Inception: An Interview with Nader Naderpur,” Rahavard, Vol. 17, no. 23, spring/summer 1989, pp. 10-22;
  • “Water Lilies Grow in Swamps Too: The Life and Worldview of Simin Daneshvar,” Nimeye Digar, No. 8, fall 1988, pp. 5-24. Reprinted in Daftar-e Honar, Vol. 2, no.4, September 1995, pp. 367-372;
  • “Salaam to Simin Daneshvar,” by Wallace Stegner, translated from English, Nimeye Digar, Vol. 1, no. 8, fall 1988;
  • “Transcending Time: The Life and Poetry of Forugh Farrokhzad,” Omid, Vol. 1, no. 1. August 1987. pp. 42-48. Reprinted in Asheghaneh, Vol. 4, no. 42, October 1988, pp. 10-11, 58-59;
  • “A Dream of the Past: Images of the Ideal Woman in the Work of Sadeq Hedayat,” Iran Nameh, Vol. 5, no. 1, 1986. pp. 81-97;
  • “A Cry from the Land of Barren Trials of Love,” Nimeye Digar, Vol. 1, no. 1, spring 1984. Pp.43-
  • “An Audience with Simin Daneshvar,” Alefba, New Series, Vol. IV, fall 1983. pp. 147-57.

Selected Opinion Pieces and Commentaries

Service Activities (A Selection)

  • Member, editorial board, World Literature Today 2012-
  • Member, editorial board, Journal of Middle Eastern Women Studies 2015-
  • Member: the editorial board of Iranian Studies, Journal of the International Society for Iranian Studies, 2015-
  • Reviewer for Title VI and FLAS applications for Middle East Centers, Department of Education, Washington DC, May 17-21, 2010;
  • Selection Committee, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center for Writers and Artists (2009-10: New York, Rockefeller Foundation Office);
  • Selection Committee: Ford Foundation Bellagio Center for Writers and Artists (2008);
  • Advisory Editorial Board, the Encyclopedia of Women in Islamic Cultures, Brill Academic Publishers (2003- );
  • Member, Governor Warner’s Council on the Status of Women in Virginia (2002-2005);
  • Editorial Board, Virginia Quarterly Review (2002-2005);
  • Member, President Casteen’s Women’s Leadership Council and Committee on Diversity;
  • Review panelist, Kluge/Library of Congress Fellowships (2005);
  • Review panelist, NEH Fellowships for University Teachers, N.E.H. Office, Washington D.C. (1997- 2000);
  • President, Association of Middle Eastern Women's Studies in America (1994-1996);
  • Member, Albert Hourani Book Award, 1996 and Ehsan Yarshater International Award for Iranian Studies (1997-99);
  • Member, Board of Executive Directors of Middle East Studies, Middle East Studies Association of North America (1991-1994);
  • Executive Officer of the American Association of Persian Teachers (1990-1993);
  • Member, Committee on Academic Freedom, Middle Eastern Studies Association of North America (1991-1994).

Selected Interviews

  • Milani Awarded for Book on Iranian Women's Struggle for 'Freedom of Movement,' Aug. 13, 2012
  • C-SPAN, May 22, 2012
  • BookTV, May 22, 2012
  •, May 25, 2012
  • Farzaneh Milani Named as Woman of the Year by IWSF


Persian Literature and Women's Studies