Matthew Thomas Miller, PhD. is Assistant Professor of Persian Literature and Digital Humanities at Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and and an affiliate of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. He also serves as the Director of the Roshan Initiative in Persian Digital Humanities (PersDig@UMD) and as the co-PI for the multi-institutional Open Islamicate Texts Initiative (OpenITI) and the Persian Manuscript Initiative (PMI). He has received generous funding for these projects from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Islamic Manuscript Association. His research focuses on medieval Sufi literature; the history of sexuality, the body, sense, and affect; and digital humanities. He currently is working on a book project, entitled Affected by God: Embodied Poetics and Somatic Epistemology in Medieval Persian Sufi Literature, and a number of articles on computational or “distant reading” approaches to Persian literature and carnivalesque Sufi poetry.
2016—PhD, Comparative Literature (with Graduate Certificate, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), Washington University in Saint Louis
2009—MA, Islamic and Near Eastern Studies, Washington University in Saint Louis
2007—BA, International and Area Studies (with University Honors and Phi Beta Kappa), Washington University in Saint Louis
Honors, Awards, and Grants (Selected)
- Independent Scholarship, Research and Creativity Award (ISRCA) ($10,000 for Spring 2022 teaching release)
- Grant ($100,000) from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for bridge funding phase of “The Open Islamicate Texts Initiative Arabic-script OCR Catalyst Project (OpenITI AOCP)” (Role: Principal Investigator) (2021)
- Level III Digital Humanities Advancement Grant ($282,905) from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the project entitled, “Automatic Collation for Diversifying Corpora: Improving Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) for Arabic-script Manuscripts” (Role: Principal Investigator) (2020).
- HathiTrust Research Center Advanced Collaborative Support Award for “Detecting and Transcribing Arabographic Texts” (Role: Co-Principal Investigator) (2020)
- Grant ($800,000) from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for “The Open Islamicate Texts Initiative Arabic-script OCR Catalyst Project (OpenITI AOCP)” (Role: Principal Investigator) (2019)
- Ehsan Yarshater Fellowship in Iranian and Persian Studies, Yale University (2017-2019) (declined)
- Collection Care and Emergency Response Grant (£5,000), Islamic Manuscript Association (2017) (for PMI project in the Raja of Mahmudabad Palace Library) (Role: Principal Investigator)
- DRIF Conference Grant for “Manuscripts in the 21st Century” workshop (2016)
- Global Classroom Initiatives Grant (2015) for development of the Islamicate World 2.0: Studying Islamicate Cultures through Computation Textual Analysis course ($12,000). More information on the course is available here (Role: Principal Investigator)
- Tier 1 University of Maryland Grant (2015) for Persian Digital Library project ($50,000)
- Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute Fellowship for Excellence in Persian Studies (2012-2013)
- Mellon-Sawyer Graduate Fellowship (2011-2012)
- Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society (Spring 2007)
- “The Poetics of the Sufi Carnival: The Rogue Lyrics (Qalandariyyāt) as Heterotopic Countergenre(s).” Al-ʿUṣūr al-Wusṭā: The Journal of Middle East Medievalists (Forthcoming 2022).
- “The Qalandar King: Early Development of the Qalandariyyāt and Saljuq Conceptions of Kingship in Amir Moʿezzi’s Panegyric for Sharafshāh Jaʿfari.” Iranian Studies (Forthcoming 2022).
- (with Benajmin Kiessling, Gennady Kurin, and Kader Smail). “Advances and Limitations in Open Source Arabic-Script OCR: A Case Study,” Digital Studies / Le champ numérique 11:1 (2021). doi: https://doi.org/10.16995/dscn.8094
- (third author, with Benjamin Kiessling and Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra). “BADAM: A Public Dataset for Baseline Detection in Arabic-script Manuscripts.” HIP 2019: 5th International Workshop on Historical Document Imaging and Processing (October 20th-21st, 2019). doi: https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/3352631.3352648 1
- (fourth author, with Maxim Romanov, Masoumeh Seydi, and Sarah Savant), “Open Islamicate Texts Initiative: a Machine-Readable Corpus of Texts Produced the Premodern Islamicate World.” DH2019 (Utrecht University 9-12 July 2019). doi: https://dev.clariah.nl/files/dh2019/boa/0838.html (Received the DH2019 prize for the most “innovative and interdisciplinary research”)1
- (with Ali Khan Mahmudabad and Columba Stewart). “The Raja of Mahmudabad Palace Library Project.” Shi’i Studies Review 3 (2019): 271-279. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/ap4q-zw79
- “Embodying the Sufi Beloved: (Homo)eroticism, Embodiment, and the Construction of Desire in the Hagiographic Tradition of ‘Erâqi.” Journal of Middle Eastern Literatures 21:1 (2018): 1-27. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/1475262X.2018.1492134
- (with Bridget Almas, Emad Khazraee, and Joshua Westgard). “Manuscript Study in Digital Spaces: The State of the Field and New Ways Forward.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 12/2 (2018). doi: http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/12/2/000374/000374.html.
- (with Maxim G. Romanov, Sarah Bowen Savant, and Ben Kiessling). “Important New Developments in Arabographic Optical Character Recognition (OCR).” Al-ʿUṣūr al-Wusṭā: The Journal of Middle East Medievalists 25 (2017). doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6TZ4R.
- (with Maxim G. Romanov and Sarah Bowen Savant). “Digitizing the Textual Heritage of the Premodern Islamicate World: Principles and Plans.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 50 (2017): 103-109. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020743817000964
- (with Sarah Bowen Savant). “‘Tell Me Something I Don’t Know!’: The Place and Politics of Digital Methods in the (Islamicate) Humanities.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 50 (2017): 135-139. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020743817001027
Submitted Works (Under Peer Review)
- “Genre in Classical Persian Poetry.” In The Routledge Handbook on Persian Literature, edited by Kamran Talattof (Oxfordshire: Routledge). Submitted to the editor in July 2020.
- “Fakhr al-Dīn ʿIrāqī: Poet and Mystic.” In Literary Mystical Landscapes: Voices and Themes in Medieval Persian Prose and Poetry, edited by Fatemeh Keshavarz and Ahmet T. Karamustafa. Submitted to the editors in August 2019.
Works in Progress
- Affected by God: Embodied Poetics and Somatic Epistemology in Medieval Persian Sufi Literature. Book manuscript in preparation.
- Reading Classical Persian: A Comprehensive High-Frequency Introduction to Classical Persian. Book manuscript in preparation.
Public Intellectual Writing
- “Sufi love poetry is in vogue, but few grasp its radical meaning.” Aeon Psyche, October 13th, 2021. url: https://psyche.co/ideas/sufi-love-poetry-is-in-vogue-but-few-grasp-its-radical-meaning
- “The Kite Runner Critiqued: New Orientalism Goes to the Big Screen.” CommonDreams (Jan 2008). Available for download here. Translated into Persian: “Ravâyati neo-orientâlisti az khâvarmiyâneh: naqdi digar bar ‘Bâdbâdak-bâz’.” Jahân-e Ketâb sâl-e sizdahom, shomâreh-ye 3 va 4 (Khordâd va Tir 1387). Translated by Ahmad Sayf. Available here.
- Iranian Cinema (Fall 2019, Fall 2020)
- Sex, Love, and Desire in Persian Poetry (Spring 2018)
- Instructor, Lyrics of Mystical Love: Rumi, Song of Songs, and St. Teresa of Avila to Mirabai and Manhae (Spring 2019)
- Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in the Islamic World (Spring 2017, Fall 2018)
- The Islamicate World 2.0: Studying Islamic Cultures through Computational Textual Analysis (Fall 2016, Spring 2021)
- Introduction to Global Digital Humanities (Spring 2016)
- Introduction to Persian Literature in Translation (Spring 2015, Fall 2017)
- Lyrics of Mystical Love, East and West (Fall 2014)
Service to Profession
- Member, Alpheios Advisory Board
- Member, Board of Islamicate Digital Humanities Network
- Member, ALTO (Analyzed Layout and Text Object) International Editorial Board for OCR standards.
- Member, vHMML Board of Advisors, Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML)
- Served on two National Endowment for the Humanities grant review panels.
- Institutional Trustee, Board of Trustees, American Institute of Afghanistan Studies (AIAS)