E. Lucy Deacon (MSc. Persian Civilisation, M.A. Arabic and Persian)

Thesis title: Retelling Karbala: A Literary Analysis of Key Plays of the Iranian Ta'ziyeh Repertoire (viva voce passed FEB 2022 - no corrections)


Eleanor Lucy Deacon is a Teaching Fellow in Islamic Studies and Researcher in Arabic and Persian manuscripts at the Centre for Research Collections. She passed her viva voce in February 2022 with no corrections. She is currently recasting her PhD thesis "Retelling Karbala: A Literary Analysis of Key Plays of the Iranian Ta'ziyeh Repertoire" as a monograph. She has an M.A. in Arabic and Persian and an MSc. in Persian Civilisation from the University of Edinburgh, both awarded with distinction. She has a performing arts background which has given her a unique perspective when examining the stage craft of the taʿziyeh genre. Prior to entering the field of Persian Studies, having trained at the Centre de les Arts del Circ Rogelio Rivel in Barcelona, she worked for more than a decade as an acrobatic performer. This included creating narrative and multimedia work, and touring with both contemporary and traditional circus companies, performing throughout Europe and also visiting China and India. 

Her approach to studying the taʿziyeh combines fieldwork with archival research. She participated as an audience member in Iran in Muharram of 1439/ 2017 and Lebanon in 1440/ 2018, and has worked extensively with the historical taʿziyeh script collection held by the Vatican Library. 

Recent Publications:

"The Curious Addition of Non-Religious Characters to The Martyrdom of Imam Husain." Iranian Studies 54 no.1-2 (2021): 193-220.

"Taʿziyeh-khani in Iranian Communities: Muharram AH 1439 (AD 2017)." Medieval English Theatre 42 (2020): 142-180.

"Remembering Through Re-Enacting: Revisiting the Emergence of the Iranian Ta’zia Tradition." Medieval English Theatre 41 (2019): 58-83.

Undergraduate teaching

Between summer 2017 and spring 2019 Ms. Deacon worked as a Persian language tutor at The University of Edinburgh. She taught regular classes focussing on all aspects of language acquisition with 1st and 2nd year students and aural comprehension classes with 3rd and 4th Year Students using audio texts focussing on both literature and news media. She co-planned and delivered two intensive courses for Persian language students from 2nd - 4th year level (including visiting students from other institutions).

In spring 2019 she was a tutor on the sub-honours course 'Islamic Cultures'.

Postgraduate teaching

In 2020 and 2018 she gave a guest lecture entitled 'Remembering Karbala: The Iranian Ta'ziyeh Ritual' as part of the course 'History and Culture of Iran', open to both honours and masters students.

In 2018 Ms. Deacon was a teaching assistant on the course 'Islam Through the Arts', open to both honours and masters students. This included giving a guest lecture on her specialist topic, Shi'ism and Drama. 

Research summary

My PhD research concerns the literary features and historical development of the Iranian taʿziyeh repertoire, largely focussing on the evolution that took place from the Zand to the Qajar period (1750s -1920s CE).  I work with historical script collections, both in the form of manuscripts and those edited and published by other scholars.

Invited speaker

(Un)-Equal Pairs ? Comparative Literature: Time and Place from the Middle Ages to the Present Day, Doctoral School, University of Fribourg, Switzerland, 7th September, 2021.  

European Conference of Iranian Studies, Berlin, Germany, 11th September, 2019. 

Symposia Iranica, St. Andrews, Scotland, 14th April, 2019. 

Medieval English Theatre Conference, Fribourg, Switzerland, 12th April, 2019.