Comparative and World Literature The College of Humanities

Image: Photos of SF State students and scenes from around campus

Shirin A. Khanmohamadi

Associate Professor
Comparative and World Literature
San Francisco State University


Shirin A. Khanmohamadi (B.A., Brown, Ph.D. Columbia) is an Associate Professor in the Comparative and World Literature department at San Francisco State University, where she specializes in comparative medieval European literature, premodern travel and ethnographic writing, and literary and cultural contact between the medieval European and Islamic worlds. Her articles have appeared in postmedieval, New Medieval Literatures, Exemplaria, and Arthuriana. Her study of premodern ethnographic form, In Light of Another´s Word: European Ethnography in the Middle Ages, was recently published in The University of Pennsylvania Press' Middle Ages Series (2014). Link to review in TMR here.

She is now at work on a book on 'Translating Saracens,' which examines the place of 'Saracens' (medieval Muslims) in expressions and emplotments of 'translatio imperii' -- the transfer of empire, political authority or cultural prestige to Europe-- in the chansons de geste and other late medieval genres.

Teaching and Research Interests

Comparative Medieval Literary Study; Pre- and Early Modern Travel and Ethnography; Medieval Europe and the Islamic world; The Global Middle Ages; Medieval Translatio/n

Teaching at SFSU

    CWL 230, World Literature

    CWL 400, Approaches to Comparative and World Literature

    CWL 420, Travel and the Literary Imagination

    CWL 423, Going Medieval: Medieval Literature and Contemporary Adaptation

    CWL 424, Multicultural Middle Ages [offered since 2008]

    CWL 450, Literary Crossings

    ENG 501, Age of Chaucer

    ENG 690, Senior Seminar: Chaucer

    CWL 800, Intro to Graduate Study in Comparative Literature (Theory)

    CWL 815, Topics in Critical Theory: Anthropology and Lit Criticism

    CWL 815, Topics in Critical Theory: Theory and the Premodern Text

    CWL 820, Medieval & Early Modern Encounters

    CWL 825, Advanced Study in Comparative Literature

    CWL 896, Directed Reading: Orals

    CWL 898, Masters Thesis



      In Light of Another´s Word: European Ethnography in the Middle Ages, Philadelphia, PA: The University of Pennsylvania Press (The Middle Ages Series), 2014. Reviewed in TMR.


        “’Home’ and ‘Abroad’ in Medieval Travel and Trade Narratives,” The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature, vol. B (The Middle Ages), ed. Christine Chism, General editor, Ken Seigneurie. Forthcoming.

        "Durendal, translated: Islamic object genealogies in the chansons de geste," postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural criticism 8.3 (2017): 321-333.

        "Worldly Unease in Late Medieval Travel Reports," in Cosmopolitanism and the Middle Ages, eds. John Ganim and Shayne Legassie, New York: Palgrave New Middle Ages Series, 2013, pp. 105-120.

        “Salvage Anthropology and Displaced Mourning in the Lais of Marie de France,” Arthuriana 21.3 (Fall, 2011): 49-69.

        "Casting a 'Sideways Glance' at the Crusades: the Voice of the Other in Joinville´s Vie de Saint Louis," Exemplaria: a Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 22.3 (2010): 177-99.

        "The Look of Medieval Ethnography: William of Rubruck´s Mission to Mongolia," New Medieval Literatures 10 (2008): 87-114.

      Invited University Lectures and Presentations

        Invited Presentation, “Were the Saracens ‘Antique’?”, Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (CMEMS), Stanford University, June, 2018.

        Keynote Address, “From al-Andalus to Khorasan: Translating Empires of the Saracens in the Chansons de Geste,” UC Consortium in The Middle Ages in the Wider World UC-Davis Conference and Workshop, Davis, CA, April 28, 2018.

        Invited Lecture, “Inter-Imperiality and Translation in the Chansons de Geste,” Lecture Series in “Inclusion and Exclusion in the Middle Ages,” Medieval Colloquium, Princeton University, April, 2018.

        Invited Faculty Respondent, 43rd Annual Sewanee Medieval Colloquium: "Borders and Margins", The University of the South, Sewanee, TN, March 10-11, 2017.

        Guest Lecturer, Prof. Zrinka Stahuljak seminar in Travel and Translation, Comparative Literature department, UCLA, Winter Quarter 2017.

        Invited Presentation, Medieval and Early Modern Colloquium, UC-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, Fall 2016.

        Invited Lecture, Northwestern University Medieval Colloquium, Chicago, IL, 2016.

        Invited Lecture, "Medieval Europe and its Others," University of California-Berkeley Office of Resources for International and Area Studies (ORIAS), Berkeley, CA, July 21, 2015.

        Invited Lecture, University of Madison-Wisconsin Center for the Humanities’ Mellon Workshop Series, “Imagines Mundi: the Global Middle Ages,” Madison, Wisconsin, 2015.

        Invited Lecture, University of Pittsburgh Faculty Research Group on “Medieval and Renaissance Globalisms,” Pittsburgh, PA, 2015.

        Recent and Upcoming Conference Activity

          Invited Paper, “Saracens, Objects and Translatio in the Crusade Cycle,” Conferece on Southern France and the Latin East in the 13th Century: Crusade, Networks, and Exchanges, Stanford University, Humanities Center, April 19-20, 2018.

          Organizer and Chair, with Christine Chism, Seminar: “Medieval and Early Modern Encounters: Travel, Geography and Ethnography”, American Comparative Literature Association, UCLA, March 29-April 1, 2018.

          “Translating Saracens: Genealogies of Islam in Medieval European Epic,” Medieval Association of the Pacific, 50th Anniversary Conference, UC-Davis, Davis, CA, March 31-April 2, 2016.

          “Figuring Arab Imperium in the Chansons de Geste,” Session: Crusade and Literary Genre, 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 14-17, 2015.

          “Time and the Saracen,” Session: Temporal Estrangements, 3rd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group, UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, October 16-18, 2014.

          “Overt and Covert Classics: Alternative Translatio’s in Medieval European Vernacular Literature,” Seminar: On the Classics: debating a concept across the Premodern Mediterranean World, American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), New York University, New York, NY, March 20-23, 2014.

          Chair, “Assimilation and Exchange” Roundtable, ‘Minorities in the Mediterranean, a Symposium and Workshop,’ The Mediterranean Seminar / UC Multi-Campus Research Project, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, March 7-8, 2014.

          “Hyper-Framing the Decameron,” Boccaccio in Washington, DC: The Second Triennial Conference of the American Boccaccio Association (ABA), Washington, DC, October 4-6, 2013.

          “Medievalisms of the Postmodern: Contemporary Fiction and the Crusades,” Receptions: Reading the Past Across Time and Space, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, September 27-29, 2013.

          “Authors before Authority: tracing the differences of premodern European textual practices,” Seminar: The Prehistory of the Postcolonial: Language and Literature before Global Modernity, American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), Toronto, Canada, April 4-7, 2013.

          Last Update: 7-16-2008

SF State Home