Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America

Jane Mikkelson

Religious Studies Visiting Scholar

Research Interests

My research interests include comparative literature, Persian literature and Islamic thought, translation studies, and theories of literature. I am especially interested in comparative projects that bridge the studies of early modern Islamic, South Asian, and European literary and religious cultures. I received a joint PhD in 2019 from the University of Chicago in South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. My current book project, Steadfast Imagining, examines practices of lyric meditation in the early modern Islamic world, contextualizing these practices alongside premodern theories of literature and of the imagination. A second book project, The Experiment of Lyric, places early modern Islamic and European lyric thought in conversation, undertaking to show how poets in these traditions receive the ambitiously systematic philosophies, methods, and truths of their time in similarly experimental ways. My publications and CV can be viewed here.

I co-convene the Early Modern Workshop, which launched at UVA in 2020.


  • Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments (EGMT 1510)
  • Devotional Poetry: Religion and Literature (RELI 3120)
  • Lost and Found in Translation (EGMT 1530)
  • Sufism: Islamic Mysticism (RELI 3120)
  • Rumi: From Konya to California (MESA 3559)
  • Classical Persian Literature in Translation (PETR 3559)

Selected Publications 

  • “Flights of Imagination: Avicenna’s Phoenix (ʿAnqā) and Bīdel’s Figuration for the Lyric Self.” Journal of South Asian Intellectual History (2019), 20-72. Special issue on selfhood in the poetry and philosophy of Bīdel Dehlavī (eds. Sajjad Rizvi and Prashant Keshavmurthy).
  • “The Mind Is Its Own Place: Of Lalla’s Comparative Poetics” (co-authored with Sonam Kachru). University of Toronto Quarterly 88.2 (2019), 125-141. Special issue on comparative poetics and world poetics (eds. Ming Xie, Jonathan Hart).
  • “The Way of Tradition and the Path of Innovation: Aurangzeb and Dara Shukuh Contend for the Mughal Throne.” In Empires of the Near East and India: Sources for the Study of the Safavid, Ottoman, and Mughal Societies. Ed. Hani Khafipour, 240-260. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019.
  • “Of Parrots and Crows: Bīdel and Ḥazīn in their Own Words.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 37.3 (2017), 510-530.