University of Toronto and the Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation Announce Innovative Multiyear Partnership

October 22, 2021 by Our Department News

Heralding a dynamic era for Iranian Studies, we are delighted to announce an innovative multiyear partnership between the University of Toronto and the Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation.  This new alliance will be dedicated to sharing with the world exciting new research in two key fields – Iranian Women Poets and Iranian Cinema.

The digital research compendium projects are:

Iranian Women Poets (IWP) is an integrative reference work of medieval, modern, and contemporary women poets writing in Persian. Informed by several decades of transdisciplinary recuperative research in Persian literary studies, IWP provides literary-historical articles on female poets and their poetic agency, imagination, tropes, narratives, and lives and the provenance and literary/historical significance of their poetry. As a digital compendium, IWP is an academic reconceptualization of women poets’ biographical dictionaries (taḏkira), which began with the mid-sixteenth century Javāher-al-ʿAjāyeb (Jewels of Wonder) of Faḵri Herāvi.

Iranian Cinema (IC) is an authoritative reference work of all aspects of film and motion picture production in Iran. Spanning from the rudimentary film industry of the late-19th century to the counterintuitive surge of internationally acclaimed cinema following the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Iranian cinema has proven to be one of the most active sites of cultural production in modern Iran.  IC provides historical articles on Iranian cinema, genres, film movements, filmographies, scenarists, directors, composers, stars, lyrists, cinematographers, set designers, sound specialists, editors, choreographers, film studios, movie theaters, film posters, film critics, and audiences, among other subjects related to this theme.

The Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation will publish the digital research compendia via its website, freely accessible to all.  

Founded in 1827, the University of Toronto has evolved into Canada’s leading institution of learning, discovery, and knowledge creation and is regularly ranked amongst the top twenty universities in the world.  Within the Faculty of Arts & Science, the Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations (NMC) is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of the civilizations and cultures of the Near and Middle East.  This ranges from Neolithic times to the present, including archaeology, history, mythology, religion and thought, art and architecture, and language and literature.  Over the past decades, NMC, along with other departments across the University, has devoted significant resources to the development of Iranian Studies. In 2020 the University announced the establishment of the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies, which brings together over twenty academics from various disciplines in social science and humanities. The extraordinary depth, breadth and the high quality of research produced at the University, the variety of courses that are offered, and the significant number of excellent students and graduates in the fields related to Iranian civilization all make the University a natural partner for the Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation.

Professor Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi will be the Principal Investigator for both projects. While the research effort will draw from academic expertise across the world, the research and editorial team will be based in the Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations of the University of Toronto. This will include a dedicated Managing Editor, two Associate Editors dedicated to each compendium project, two Post-Doctoral Fellows or Research Associates, and four graduate (PhD level) and four undergraduate research assistants. The research assistants will be co-funded by the Foundation and by the University, demonstrating shared commitment to the project.

The Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation and the University of Toronto enthusiastically look forward to working together on these important thematic compendia in the coming years and sharing this research widely on open-access platforms easily available to diverse readers and researchers worldwide.


Ramine Rouhani, PhD
Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, PhD
Director, Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies
University of Toronto