Gernot Windfuhr

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Gernot W.

Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies

  • About

    Fields of Study
    Iranian Studies, Linguistics, Literature, Religion

    Professor Windfuhr’s linguistic work on Persian as well as Iranian linguistics, including dialectology and diachrony, is framed by two milestones in the field: the first descriptive and analytical survey of the linguistic study of Persian (1979), and most recently the edition of the comprehensive synchronic analyses and descriptions of Old, Middle and New Iranian languages, the first to include the complex syntax of these languages (2009). Theoretically, his work includes the development of a general three-dimensional model for the comparative mapping of the dynamics of aspect-mood-tense systems (first 1986). Areally, it includes the dynamics of Turkic-Iranian linguistic symbiosis. Didactically, it includes the production of an innovative three-level textbook series of Modern Persian (1979-1982).

    His work on Modern and Classical Persian literature began with then current structuralist approaches and turned to the inclusion of modern literary theories. Particularly for pre-modern literature he increasingly focused on the indigenous medieval poetics and the dialectics of the codified cognitive networks of a divinely ordered universe that they reflect, including cosmology and the esoteric sciences such as numerology and horoscopy and the art of riddling (examples rediscovered even in well known literary passages from the Shahname onwards).

    His work on religion includes Zoroastrianism, the Roman Mithraic Mysteries, and Manichaeism, with a major thrust on the Iranian world view preceding Islam. His focus has been on the recovery of Zoroastrian cosmology and metaphysics, and the origins and possible influences of that matrix. He demonstrated the existence of a fundamental underlying the chiastic dialectics, as well as the sacred geometry encoded not only in the Zoroastrian calendar (introduced by the Achaemenids and continued today), but also in the homologuous Zoroastrian ritual precinct. His work also includes the tracing of Zoroastrian sources for Mozart’s esoteric opera The Magic Flute.

    His comparative studies include the demonstration of the close similarity between the Zoroastrian and the Chinese Taoist ritual, and the recognition of the common lineage of the iconography of a mid-fourth century BCE Sarmatian burial in the Southern Urals to Iranian cosmology, showing that both are part of ancient Anatolian and Eurasian traditions of representing TIME.

    Gernot Windfuhr CV