Jocelyn Sharlet


Position Title
Associate Professor of Comparative Literature; Graduate Faculty Adviser for Comparative Literature

804 Sproul

Education and Degree(s):

  • A.B. with honors, Near Eastern Studies (Arabic), Princeton University
  • Ph.D., Near Eastern Studies (Arabic and Persian), Princeton University

Research Interest(s):

  • friendship and rivalry
  • patronage
  • panegyric, elegy, censure, and invective poetry
  • gift exchange, hunting, garden, wine, descriptive, love, and friendship poetry
  • historical anecdotes, encyclopedias, and biographical dictionaries
  • anthologies, commentaries, and literary criticism
  • frame tales and fiction
  • proverbs and speeches
  • ethics and political advice


My book Patronage and Poetry in the Islamic World: Social Mobility and Status in the Medieval Middle East and Central Asia explores the relationships between panegyric poets and their political patrons, as depicted in poetry by the Arabic poets Abu Tammam and al-Buhturi and the Persian poets 'Unsuri and Farrukhi, and in the portrayal of patronage interactions in medieval Arabic and Persian literary criticism, political advice, biographies of poets, and encyclopedias. I am currently working on articles about al-Khalidiyyan, Ibn Abi Tahir Tayfur, and women's use of rhetoric in a series of historical anecdotes, as well as a book project on poetry and prose writing by al-Sari al-Raffa' al-Mawsili, al-Khalidiyyan, Kushajim, and al-Sanawbari.

Selected Publications:


  • Patronage and Poetry in the Islamic World: Social Mobility and Status in the Medieval Middle East and Central Asia(I.B. Tauris, 2011). Honourable Mention, British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize, 2012.


  • Shahrnush Parsipur, Women without Men (a novella), translated from the Persian with Kamran Talattof (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1998 and New York: The Feminist Press, 2004; fourth printing 2009).

Articles and Book Chapters

  • "Abu Nuwas" in A Companion to World Literature, ed. Ken Seignurie et. al., Volume 2 (600-1400), section on Court and Patronage (Wiley, forthcoming).
  • "Chaste Lovers, Umayyad Rulers, and Abbasid Writers" in Courts and Performance in the Pre-modern Middle East, ed. Maurice Pomerantz and Evelyn Birge Vitz (NYU Press, 2017), 215-241.
  • "Approaches to Teaching Classical Arabic Literature in English Translation" in Arabic Literature for the Classroomed. by Muhsin al-Musawi (Routledge 2017).
  • "Arabic Praise Poems” in Oxford Bibliographies in Islamic Studies, 2016.
  • "Educated Slave Women and Gift Culture" in Concubines and Courtesans: Women and Slavery in Islamic History, ed. Matthew Gordon and Kathryn Hain (Oxford University Press, 2016), 278-298.
  • "Her şey kimi tanıdığınızla ilişkilidir: ʿAbbasī edebiyatında yaratıcı yazarlık ve konuşma özgürlüğü" (It’s all about who you know: Creative Writing and Freedom of Speech in Abbasid Literature) in Eski Metinlere Yeni Baglamlar, (New Contexts for Old Texts) ed. Selim Kuru, Hatice Aynur, Hanife Koncu, and Mujgan Cakir (Istanbul 2015), 190-217. 
  • "Hâmîlerve başka bağlılıklar: el-Sanevberî, Küşacim ve Ehl-i Beyt için yazdıkları kasîdeler" (Patrons and Other Commitments in Kasides by al-Sanawbari and Kushajim for the Family of the Prophet Muhammad, tr. to Turkish by Michael Douglas Sheridan), in Kasideye Medhiye (In Praise of the Qasida), ed. Hatice Aynur, Mujgan Cakir, Hanife Koncu, Selim Kuru and Ali Emre Ozyildirim, (Istanbul 2013), 44-75.
  • "Tokens of Resentment: Medieval Arabic Stories about Gift Exchange and Social Conflict” Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies vol. 11 (2011), 62-100.
  • "The Thought That Counts in Gift Exchange Poetry by Kushājim, al-Ṣanawbarī, and al-Sarī al-Raffāʾ," Middle Eastern Literatures vol. 14 no. 3 (December 2011), 235-270.
  • "A Garden of Possibilities in Manuchehrī’s Spring Garden Panegyrics," Journal of Persianate Studies Vol. 3 (2010), 1-25.
  • "Public Displays of Affection: Male Homoerotic Desire and Sociability in Medieval Arabic Literature" in Islam and Homosexuality, 2 vols., ed. Samar Habib (Praeger, 2010), 1:37-55.
  • "Inside and Outside the Pleasure Scene in Poetry about Locations by al-Sarī al-Raffāʾ al-Mawṣilī," Journal of Arabic Literature Vol. 40 No. 2 (2009), 133-169.

Teaching Experience:

  • COM 2H Major Works of Western Culture: Middle Ages to Enlightenment
  • COM 5 Fairy Tales, Fables, and Parables
  • COM 6 Myth and Legend
  • COM 53C Literature of the Islamic World
  • ARB 121-123 Advanced Arabic
  • COM 166a Epic
  • COM 145 Representations of the City in Literature
  • COM 166 Literatures of the Modern Middle East
  • COM 148 Mystical Literature of South Asia and the Middle East
  • COM 172/MSA 121C/ARB 140 A Story for a Life: The Arabian Nights
  • COM 175/MSA 121A Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings
  • COM 210: Cultural Boundaries and Cosmopolitanism
  • graduate reading courses in Arabic and Persian

Honors and Awards:

  • UC Davis Middle East/South Asia Studies (Tehran)
  • Scientific Research Council of Turkey (Istanbul)
  • UC Davis Humanities Institute
  • American Research Center in Egypt (Cairo)
  • American Institute of Iranian Studies, declined
  • Fulbright (Damascus)
  • Mellon (Tehran)
  • Center for Arabic Study Abroad (Cairo)