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American Association of Teachers of Persian (AATP) has set out, since 2008, to recognize those remarkable individuals who have dedicated their lives to the promotion and instruction of Persian language, culture and literature in the United States of America.



Professor John Perry

MESA Conference, New Orleans 

AATP was honored to present the 2019 AATP Lifetime Achievement Award to Professor John Perry. Prof. Perry is Emeritus Professor of Persian at the University of Chicago, where he taught from 1972 to 2007. Prof. Perry was born in Britain and educated at Cambridge University (Pembroke College), where in 1970 he was awarded a Ph.D in Oriental Studies (Arabic and Persian) under the tutelage of the great luminaries Peter Avery and C.E. Bosworth. During summer vacations he hitchhiked to Egypt and Iran, and in 1964-65 spent a year studying Persian at Tehran University. He has conducted research in Iran, Iraq (including Kurdistan), Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Tajikistan, and traveled the Karakoram Highway to Kashgar. He taught in the Arabic Studies Department at St. Andrews University, Scotland (1968 - 1972) before going to Chicago. His teaching at Chicago has included courses on Middle Eastern literature in translation and Islamic Civilization as well as Persian (and Tajik) language and literature. His earlier research focused on the history of eighteenth-century Iran and adjacent regions. He concentrates currently on the history of the Persian language, and in particular the mechanisms of the incorporation of Arabic vocabulary into Persian and its dissemination into other languages of the region. Other interests of Prof Perry include Iranian folklore and vernacular culture, and the language and cultural history of Tajikistan.


Mahvash Shahegh was the 2015 recipient of the AATP Award. She holds a Ph.D. in Persian language and literature from Tehran University, a B.A. in English language and literature, and an M.A. in library science from the University of Maryland at College Park. (UMCP)  She has taught Persian at Johns Hopkins University and other higher educational institutions for over 30 years. She has published several books: Haiku in Four Seasons and The Structure of Sentences in Persian, both of which were published in Iran. One of her recent published works is a two-volume book on Persian language, – Learning Persian – which has been taught in several American universities and was published in America. Her latest work is a children’s story based on the Shahnameh, titled The Green Musician. It was published in August 2015 by Wisdom Tales, an American publishing company.

In addition to books, she has published numerous articles and reviews in various journals (IranShenasi, Iran-Nameh, The Middle East) in the USA; also, she is a regular contributor to the Iranian online journals, writing about many aspects of both historical and contemporary Persian language and culture. As well as being an educator and researcher, Dr. Shahegh is also a writer, essayist, and translator. In her spare time she translates poetry. She has translated many Persian poems, such as the works of seminal poets like Ahmad Shamlu, Sohrab Sepehri, Mehdi Akhavan Sales, and many others. Mahvash has served as the first executive secretary of the American Association of Teachers of Persian for almost a decade. Her fields of interest include Persian poetry, Persian grammar, Iranian religions, literary criticism, and comparative literature.


Don Stilo (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology) received the 2014 AATP lifetime achievement award. A distinguished linguist and scholar, Dr. Stilo has dedicated over five decades of his life to studying, documenting and teaching the vast body of Iranian languages. His pioneering work in the dialectology of the Iranian language family has shaped both fieldwork and theoretical linguistics for generations of scholars to come. In addition to publishing numerous studies on languages spoken in and around Iran, languages including Persian, Vafsi, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Gilaki, Aramaic, and many others, Dr. Stilo also published the two volume textbook Modern Persian, Spoken and Written (Yale University Press 2004) with Kamran Talattof and Jerome Clinton. Dr. Stilo’s teaching and research career spans institutions including Georgetown University, UCLA, The City University of New York, The University of Washington, the Academy of Sciences of Göttingen, Germany, and, most recently, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He holds a PhD in linguistics from the University of Michigan (1971) with a concentration on Iranian languages. Since his retirement in 2011, Dr. Stilo has lived in the Netherlands, where he continues to write and publish on Iranian and Turkic linguistics.

At the 48th annual Middle East Studies Association (MESA) conference held in Washington, D.C. on November 22, 2014, the American Association of Teachers of Persian (AATP) honored Don Stilo for his many decades of service to the fields of Persian and Iranian languages. A renowned polyglot, dancer, and singer, Don Stilo wowed the AATP members with his powerful voice by singing folk songs in Persian and Turkish.

For video from the award ceremony, click here.

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