Sheida Dayani is a theatre historian of Iran and Preceptor in Persian at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Her book manuscript, "Juggling Revolutionaries: Making History with Theatre in Modern Iran," is based on her recent fieldwork in Iranian villages. It examines the transition of Iranian drama from traditional performance to European-style plays, and explores the role of theatre in social transformations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She received her PhD in 2018 from the department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU.
Her research has linked Shiite performance rituals; improvisatory comedy; identity formation through language reform; Persian translations and trans-creations of Molière; theatre in migration of Roma and Godar communities; and comparisons between Iranian comedy and the Commedia dell’Arte.
“On the Theatrical Roots of Contemporary Visual Arts in Iran” is her latest publication, in an exhibition catalogue of LACMA. Dayani’s research interests draw on her previous graduate background in legal and political history and her undergraduate degree in English and comparative literature. Before joining Harvard in 2015, she taught Persian and Islamic history at NYU, and Persian at CUNY Graduate Center and Hunter College.
At Harvard, her courses include:
- Storytellers’ Drama: Iranian Theatre and Persian Play (cross-listed with Theater, Dance, and Media)
- Advanced Persian II: Literary and Historical Texts in Persian
- Advanced Persian I: Introduction to Persian Literature
- Intermediate Persian
- Elementary Persian
Born and raised in Iran, Sheida is a published poet and translator, and has numerous Persian publications in Iranian literary journals, including Tajrobeh, Bukhara, and Negāh-e No. Her English poetry has appeared on Jadaliyya and was featured by Open Source on NPR Boston.