Farzaneh Milani headshot

Farzaneh Milani

Raymond J. Nelson Professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures

I have a passion for literature and teaching. One of my happiest childhood memories is when my mother would choose a book; kiss it; and read a poem to her children sitting in a circle around her. I, too, have kissed books all my life. On the wing of words, I crossed borders without a passport, traveled to faraway lands, met different people, and commuted between different countries. And when I began to teach, I made sharing that reverent love for literature the cornerstone of my teaching philosophy while creating in my classes a safe and borderless space—a community of fellow travelers who have free passage to unfamiliar territories.

Teaching is always a joint venture with my students, a collaborative effort, a shared experience. On the magic carpet of books, we go from one country to another, from one universe of definitions and conventions to another. We leave our comfort zones and go beyond familiar stereotypes. By visiting different countries, we learn that other cultures and languages, other faiths and rituals are no less complex, no less paradoxical, no less worthy subjects of inquiry than our own. I continue to be transformed by these imaginary journeys as I hope they transform my students.

As an immigrant, whose books—all about Iranian women in literature and cinema—are banned in her own country of birth, I do not take for granted the privilege of sharing my thoughts openly and freely with my students. I consider it a privilege to be teaching Engagement courses.