PSU offers Oregon's first Persian minor
Author: David Santen, Office of University Communications, Portland State University
Posted: September 10, 2012

PSU offers Oregon's first Persian minor

Leading scholar Dick Davis to join program in Winter 2013

(Portland, OR) – This fall, Portland State University (PSU) will launch the state’s first minor in Persian language and literature.

Picture of painting from Hasht-Behesht palace, Isfahan, Iran, from 1669. Photo by User Zereshk (Wikicommons)Persian has been spoken for centuries throughout Asia and is an official language of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Today there are approximately 110 million Persian speakers.

Students earning a minor in Persian at PSU gain proficiency in oral and written communication while learning about  Iran and its diverse perspectives, traditions and culture. Persian has been identified as a critical language due to the demand for (and lack of) English-Persian bilingual speakers within the U.S. Students studying Persian find professional opportunities in business, communications, education and government.

"Iran is among one of the least understood countries in the world,” says Anousha Sedighi, associate professor and Persian section head at PSU. “For example, few people know that the first charter of human rights was written by Cyrus the Great of Persia, in 539 BC. The Persian minor provides an opportunity to learn about Iran through its beautiful language, literature, and culture.” 

Shanameh: The Persian Book of KingsProfessor Dick Davis, a renowned Persia scholar, joins the program this winter as a visiting scholar to teach “Introduction to Persian Literature” and “Iranian Women Writers.” In spring, Davis will teach “Persian Literature in Translation” and “Persian Mythology and Folklore.” Davis is an accomplished poet in his own right, and is recognized as the preeminent translator of Persian poetry. His translation of Ferdowsi’s eleventh-century epic Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings was chosen as one of the “ten best books of 2006” by the Washington Post.

Davis’ residency at PSU is supported by a $150,000 grant from the PARSA community foundation ( promoting Persian Studies at PSU.

Portland State University’s Department of World Languages and Literatures offers language and literature courses in more than two dozen languages, including Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish. The department also offers several bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Students develop strong oral and written competencies, as well as cultural background and connections to the languages. For more information visit

The Persian program works closely with PSU’s Middle East Studies Center and  community organizations such as Persia House to promote better understanding of Persian culture and heritage.

Usage note: Farsi is the native name of the Persian language (similar to German/Deutsch, French/Français, Spanish/Español). The Academy of the Persian Language and Literature indicates “Persian” rather than Farsi as the preferred term.

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News Release
For Immediate Release (#12-088)
September 10, 2012

David Santen, 503-725-8765,
PSU Office of University Communications

Anousha Sedighi, 503-725-8784,
Department of World Languages and Literatures