Franklin D. Lewis grew up in Southern California and attended U.C. Berkeley and the University of Chicago. He previously taught in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. Currently, he serves as associate professor of Persian in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and as deputy director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. He also served for a decade as president of the American Institute of Iranian Studies.
Lewis’s research focuses on Persian and Arabic literature and philology, comparative literature and translation theory, Islamic studies, Sufism, and Baha’i studies. In addition to numerous articles in academic journals and encyclopedias, including the Encyclopaedia Iranica, Encyclopaedia of the Qur’ān, and Encyclopedia of Religion, Lewis has published translations of fiction by Iranian writers, including In a Voice of their Own: Stories Written by Iranian Women Since the Revolution of 1979; Zoya Pirzad’s novel, Things We Left Unsaid (2012); and Jamalzadeh’s Masumeh of Shiraz.
He has also written on the poet Sanâ’i (1995), and the popular 12th-century Sufi saint, Shaykh Ahmad-e Jâm, The Colossal Elephant and His Spiritual Feats: Shaykh Ahmad-e Jām (co-authored with Heshmat Moayyad; Mazda, 2004).
In 2000, Lewis’s Rumi: Past and Present, East and West (Oxford: Oneworld) received the BRISMES British-Kuwaiti Friendship award. The book has thus far been translated into Persian, Turkish and Danish. His translations of Rumi’s poetry appeared in 2008 as Rumi: Swallowing the Sun. Working with Iranian scholar Hassan Lahouti, he has edited and translated the Spiritual Lessons of Borhân al-Din Mohaqqeq of Termez.
Lewis’s recent work has focused on a wide variety of subjects, including conversion narratives; the transfer of tales and stories from Persian and Arabic sources to European languages in the 12th-15th centuries; the chronology of Rumi’s poetry; the poetry of Rumi’s son, Soltân Valad; the role of women in medieval Sufi circles; the politics of poetic patronage; the semiotics of dawn in the ghazals of Hâfez, and others. He guest-edited an issue of Iran Nameh about Rumi, and a forthcoming special issue of Iranian Studies on Ferdowsi’s The Shahnameh. He is also at work with his students on translating the fiction of Bozorg Alavi, an Iranian writer who lived in exile in East Berlin after 1953.