Persian Culture and Arts: An introduction


Explore the rich and diverse literary, cultural and geographical landscape not only of contemporary Iran, but also of the pre-modern Persian world.

From spiritual artists, quiet scientists, through to bold authors, sportsmen and sportswomen, passionate activists, sassy youngsters, heartbroken comedians you will hear the stories of individuals in Iran and from amongst the Iranian diaspora.

Target audience:
This course will appeal to anyone interested in Persian culture and art, as well as to those who are planning a trip to Iran.

Learning objectives:
By the end of this course, you will have:

  • Gained an overview of the Persian history up to the contemporary age. 
  • Explored the geographical features and tourist attractions of contemporary Iran.
  • Explored major literary and artistic figures, styles and movements. 
  • Identified sources for more study and explorations.

Course outline:
Each session will include lecture presentations and screenings with time for questions and group discussion. Some of the sessions will feature guest speakers and performing artists. Topics to be covered include:

Session 1: History and Geography

  • Traveling in time to ancient Persia and back to contemporary Iran, discovering the true stories beyond the media image. 
  • Exploring Persian Gulf holiday islands, snow-capped mountain ranges, ski resorts, modern and traditional architectures, and slow paced villages

Session 2: Literature and Journalism

  • Classical and medieval Persian epic, lyric, and Sufi poets, storytelling, folk literature, children's literature
  • Contemporary poetry and prose writers, journalists, women activists, translators, poetry recitations and contests

Session 3: Cinema and Dramatic arts

  • The evolution of Iranian cinema, popular film genres, animated films, New Wave films, amateurs and iconic figures. 
  • Ancient theatrical performances from Shahnam-e Khani, etc. to popular contemporary theatre.

Session 4: Painting and Calligraphy

  • Evolution of Persian visual art from early carvings to Persian miniature, calligraphy painting and contemporary caricature 
  • Evolution of Persian Language, script, and calligraphy styles and its popularity.

Session 5: Music and Dance

  • History of Persian music, ancient and contemporary musical instruments, folk music, ethnic varieties, music and memories, masters and amateurs
  • Rhythm and movement, ethnic dance, Sufi dance, iconic singers and dancers

Session 6: Iranians and Tourists

  • Age-old Zoroastrian traditions, nationalism, spirituality and secularity of contemporary Iran
  • Hospitality of nomads, secrets of Persian kitchens, education, sport, and leisure
  • Experiencing Iran, tips for travellers

A short break is held halfway through each session, and you are welcome to bring refreshments if you wish.

Roya Jabarouti specialized in World Literature for MA. She is now completing her PhD in Literary Translation Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. Roya has been teaching for several years and is the author of book reviews, scholarly and non-scholarly articles.

Diego Bonelli holds a PhD in Film from Victoria University of Wellington, where he is currently a Teaching Assistant and a publishing researcher. He has a Master in Contemporary History from Università degli Studi di Parma, a Master in Art and Culture Management from Trentino School of Management, and extensive experience in teaching and working with international students.

Relevant links:
School of Languages and Cultures

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email:

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.