Research

Book Projects

Dr. Mehdizadeh’s monograph, Translating Persia in Early Modern English Writing, argues that England shaped its vision for imperial progress according to its fantasies of Persia in the early modern literary imagination. Popular early modern English literature, including translations of classical texts and biblical commentary about the ancient Achaemenid empire (550–330 BCE) taught English readers that Persia was always meant to be superseded by more enlightened civilizations. Early modern dramatic literature, poetry, epics, and atlases represented Persia within this supersessionary logic, continually rehearsing Persia’s fall as an ideological origin point for England’s imperial future. But this attempt to “Englysh” Persia—to make it accessible by rendering it legible according to English desires—ultimately failed to yield sustained intimacy with the Safavid empire (1501-1722 CE). The Safavid shahs whom English travelers encountered on their journeys to Persia refused every attempt at an exclusive Anglo-Persian trade agreement. Far from an inert empire in ruins, Safavid Persia was a thriving metropolis that forced English rulers to direct their global ambitions elsewhere, further delaying England’s already belated attempts at mercantile and imperial expansion.

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Anti-Racist Shakespeare is the working title of the co-authored book Dr. Mehdizadeh is writing with Dr. Ambereen Dadabhoy, under contract with Cambridge University Press for their Cambridge Elements: Shakespeare and Pedagogy series. This book argues that Shakespeare’s works are an ideal site for engaging in anti-racist pedagogy because of the canonical, cultural capital that inheres to them, and because they have historically supported imperialism and racism. Anti-Racist Shakespeare discusses methods of manifesting anti-racist solidarity through pedagogical practice and demonstrates successful approaches to engaging in meaningful, ongoing discussions with students about race. Dadabhoy and Mehdizadeh seek to demonstrate, therefore, that anti-racist Shakespeare pedagogy enhances understandings of Shakespeare, his works, and his place in the academy, which helps students develop racial literacy and empowers them to think critically about race and racial politics beyond the work of the classroom.

Digital Initiatives

Medieval and Early Modern Orients (MEMOs)

Dr. Mehdizadeh acts as a Safavid specialist for Medieval and Early Modern Orients (MEMOs), a public digital humanities project centering the Mughal, Ottoman, and Safavid empires of the Global Renaissance. This resource centralizes information about early modern transnational encounter, from organizing symposia about cross-cultural contact, providing news regarding relevant events, and maintaining a blog with helpful information and suggested readings.

Safavid Empire: Timeline and Overview” (June 2020)

The Last Goodbye: Robert Sherley’s “Vltimum Vale” in Safavid Persia” (August 2020)

Thomas Coryate and the Theatre of the East” (May 2021)

Women Writers Project

Dr. Mehdizadeh serves as an advisory board member and consultant for the Women Writers Project, working collaboratively with a diverse team of experts to cultivate accessible and inclusive resources that amplify the voices and stories of women writers of color.

Selected Publications

“Robert Sherley and the Persian Habit.” England’s Asian Renaissance, edited by Su Fang Ng and Carmen Nocentelli. University of Delaware Press, forthcoming 2021.

Othello in Harlem: Transforming Theater in Djanet Sears’ Harlem Duet. Shakespeare and Black America, Special Issue of Journal of American Studies, edited by Patricia Cahill and Kim F. Hall, 54:1 (2020): 12-18.

The Petrification of Rostam: Thomas Herbert’s re-vision of Persia in A Relation of Some Yeares Travaile.Re-mapping Travel Narratives in the Early Modern World: to the East and Back again, edited by Montserrat Piera. ARC Humanities Press, 2018. 111-127.

‘Why are we changing maps?’: Teaching Transnational Encounter with Edward Terry’s A Voyage to East India.This Rough Magic (December 2014).

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