Hamid Dabashi’s teaching career began at the age of 15 when he was in high school in his hometown Ahvaz in southern Iran, where he taught summer courses to his fellow students and those in lower grades. The income from this early teaching career helped pay for his college education in Tehran.
He began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadephia) soon after he arrived in the United States in 1976 and started his graduate work in the Department of Sociology, and has continued uninterrupted ever since.
His teaching career extends from his Alma Mater to University of Texas (Austin), University of Utah (Salt Lake City), and then Harvard, New York University, and finally Columbia. His adaptation of the Socratic teaching method has taken him from the auditoriums of Ivy League universities to street corners of Manhattan, the Times Square, and in demonstrations and rallies in front of the United Nations.
Generations of his students have now become prominent scholars in their own rights in major universities from North America to Europe to the Arab and Muslim world. Doctoral dissertations written under his supervision and guidance are now classics in their respective fields.
Professor Dabashi has received awards and recognitions for his teaching at Columbia University and elsewhere, including a Certificate of Appreciation from Columbia College Students, ranked a Golden Nugget by student-initiated evaluations, as well as repeatedly nominated for both the Van Doren and the Presidential Teaching Award.
He is the founding Executive Committee member and the Director of Graduate Studies (2001-2005) of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University, where he has taught theories of comparative literature for over a decade, and where he is chiefly responsible for opening up the study of Persian literature and Iranian culture at Columbia University to students of comparative literature and society, breaking away from the confinements of European Orientalism and American Area Studies.
Currently he teaches the social and intellectual history of Iran and the Muslim world, both modern and medieval, as well as comparative literature, literary theory, and world cinema.
His courses and seminars in the Department for Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia include:
Spring 2012: Postcolonial Theory, co-taught with Professor Mamadou Diouf
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- Cinema and Society in Asia and Africa
- Cinema and Revolution in Cuba and Iran
- Shi’ism: A Historical and Comparative Perspective
- Epics and Empires: On Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh
- Empires: A Comparative Perspective
- Colonialism: A Global Perspective
- Modern and Medieval Islamic Political Thought
Hamid Dabashi has chaired the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) and is a founding member of the Executive Committee of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society. He has been the Associate Director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society (CCLS), the Director of Graduate Studies at MEALAC and CCLS, and the Chair of the Core Curriculum Committee of Columbia College. He has also been the Executive Secretary for the Society of Iranian Studies, convening its first Biennial Conference in 1994 in Washington, DC.