TIPSHEET: U.Va. Expert on Women and Politics in Iran

Farzaneh Milani
Professor of Persian literature and women's studies
434-982-2960 (office)
[Milani will be available primarily via e-mail after Aug. 24, when she embarks on a Semester at Sea voyage.]

Aug. 13, 2009 — Farzaneh Milani, a professor of Persian literature and women's studies at the University of Virginia, is author of "Veils and Words: The Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers," and co-translator of the poetry volume, "A Cup of Sin: Selected Poems," by Simin Behbahani, Iran's most celebrated living poet. Milani and collaborator Kaveh Safa's translation of Behbahani's poems won the 2008 Lois Roth Prize for Literary Translation from Persian.

A past president of the Association of Middle Eastern Women's Studies in America, Milani's studies focus on Persian literature and cinema, Iran, women and Islam, and cross-cultural studies of women. She also has studied the portrayal of Iran in the Western media.

Born and raised in Tehran before emigrating to the United States in 1967, Milani is a leading authority on the role of women in Iranian culture. "Women writers have always been at the forefront of democratic movements in Iran," Milani said, "going back 160 years to the public unveiling of poet Qurrat al-'Ayn in Badasht, Iran in 1848 – the same year as the momentous Seneca Falls Convention in the U.S.

"Iranian women writers have consistently been a force for moderation and modernization, always choosing nonviolent means to pursue their agenda. One could say that Iran's current 'Green Movement' is picking up on what, though not openly expressed, has been the model of women writers for the past 160 years."

Milani has been widely quoted in the media, including National Public Radio, the New York Times and the Washington Post, often commenting on the complex politics and layered meanings of veils and veiling in Islamic nations.

Previous media citations:

• "The Ultimate Unveiling of Iranian Women"
Middle East Online / Agence Global / July 14

• "Lyrical voices hail Iranians from overseas"
Los Angeles Times / July 1, 2009

• "From Tunis to Tehran, the great veil debate"
Christian Science Monitor / Nov. 8, 2006

Examples of op-eds by Farzaneh Milani:

• '"Islamic bicycle' can't slow Iranian women"
USA Today / June 28, 2007

• "Coverings Uncovered"
Washington Post / Oct. 22, 2006

• "Drawing the Line Between Public and Private"
NPR's All Things Considered / Feb. 13, 2006

• "Lipstick Politics in Iran"
New York Times / Aug. 19, 1999

— By Brevy Cannon