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Historiography and Cultural History (Persian)


Admission requirements

Research Master Area Studies, specialisation Middle Eastern Studies with sufficient level of Persian. Please, contact the student advisor, Nicole A.N.M. van Os or the teacher Dr. G.R. van den Berg, if you are interested in taking this course, but NOT a student admitted to one of the above-mentioned master programmes or if you are not confident regarding your level of Persian.


In this course the rich tradition of Persian historical writing from its rise in the eastern parts of the Islamic caliphate in the 10th century to the Qajar era will be dealt with by examining examples of Persian historiography and by analyzing available secondary source material. The focus will be on the nature, function, context and background of Persian historiography, specifically in premodern times. During the course, we will examine excerpts of historical writing from different periods, mainly from chronicles, but we will also look at other types of writing containing historical information, such as mirrors for princes, geography and biography. Much of the material we will explore can be related to the legitimizing enterprise of rulers and dynasties who established large empires in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, such as the Ghaznavids, Saljuqs, Mongols, Timurids, Safavids and Mughals.

Course objectives

Concise description of the course objectives formulated in terms of knowledge, insight and skills students will have acquired at the end of the course. The relationship between these objectives and achievement levels for the programme should be evident. The aim of this course is to provide an overview of 1000 years of Persian historical writing, its themes, its context, its form and its nature, by examining a selection of primary source material from different periods and a variety of secondary sources.



Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Paper of ca. 8000 words (60%)

  • Midterm paper (AQCI) (20%)

  • Presentation and participation in class (20%)



Reading list

Primary text material will be provided for by the tutor. Secondary readings include:

  • Denise Aigle, L’Iran face à la domination mongole, Leuven: Peeters 1997

  • Said Amir Arjomand, The Salience of Political Ethic in the Spread of Persianate Islam, Journal of Persianate Studies 1, 1 (2008), pp. 5-29

  • Reuven Amitai, The Mongols in the Islamic lands : studies in the history of the Ilkhanate, Aldershot: Ashgate 2007

  • Lisa Balabanlilar, Imperial identity in the Mughal Empire : memory and dynastic politics in early modern South and Central Asia, London: I.B. Tauris 2012

  • C.E. Bosworth, The Ghaznavids: Their Empire in Afghanistan and Eastern Iran 994-1040, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 1963

  • Beatrice Manz, Power, Politics and Religion in Timurid Iran, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2007

  • Julie Meisami, Persian Historiography to the End of the Twelfth Century, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 1999

  • Charles Melville (ed.), Persian Historiography, London: I.B. Tauris 2012

  • Andrew Newman, Safavid Iran : rebirth of a Persian empire, London: I.B. Tauris 2006

  • Andrew Peacock, Early Seljuq History: A New Interpretation, London: Routledge 2010

  • Sholeh A. Quinn, Historical writing during the reign of Shah ʿAbbas : ideology, imitation, and legitimacy in Safavid chronicles: Salt Lake City, University of Utah Press 2000

  • Marilyn Waldman, Toward a Theory of Historical Narrative: A Case Study in Perso-Islamicate Historiography, Columbus: Ohio State University Press 1980


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Dr. G.R. van den Berg