History of Art and Architecture

Sahar S. Hosseini

Assistant Professor


As an architectural and urban historian, Sahar Hosseini studies the socio-cultural conditions of societies by looking at the places they create, inhabit, and modify. Her scholarship focuses on the built environment and material culture of the pre-modern Muslim world, particularly positioning the Persianate societies at the intersection of global flows, local practices, and the natural context of each region. Her current book project offers a new interpretation of Isfahan’s seventeenth-century urban development by shifting attention from the city center and its structures to the nearby Zayandehrud River and its associated landscapes. Given the multiplicity of the roles played by the river, Hosseini’s work explores different aspects of the city-river relationship across multiple scales—from the broad scale of the region to the intimate scale of the human body.

In addition to her focus on Safavid Iran, Hosseini has also worked on a range of topics related to landscape and urbanism in contemporary Iran. Recent work has also involved collaborations with a team of digital storytellers at Rutgers University-Newark to employ digital mapping and visualization tools to narrate the history of immigration in the old industrial town of Newark through the lens of its built environment. This critical reading of landscape and methodological explorations also find their way into her teaching, where she directs her students to explore the built environment and landscape as a manifestation of the interplay between a myriad of contemporary and historical actors.

Before joining Pitt, Hosseini held fellowships at Dumbarton Oaks, the Humanities Institute at the New York Botanical Garden, and Rutgers University-Newark.

Education Details

PhD – University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

MLA – University of Tehran

B.Arch. – University of Tehran

Selected Publications

“Safavid and Mughal Urban Bridges: Visual and Embodied Experience of Nature.” South Asian Studies, 35, no.1(Summer 2019): 107-128.

Building Isfahan for Tomorrow: The United States’ Point Four Program and Discourse on Urban Planning in Iran.” in Architectural Dynamics in Pre-Revolutionary Iran, edited by Mohammad Gharipour. (Chicago: Intellect & University of Chicago Press – Forthcoming: October 2019)

“Re-examining Persian Civitas: Networked Urbanities and Suburban Hinterlands in Erich Schmidt’s Flights.” co-authored with Manu Sobti, in The Historiography of Persian Architecture, edited by Mohammad Gharipour, 14-40, (New York: Routledge, 2015)

Selected Awards

Andrew Mellon Fellowship in Urban Landscape Studies, Dumbarton Oaks, 2018.

Seed Grant, Rutgers University-Newark, 2018.

Andrew Mellon Fellowship in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities, Humanities Institute - New York Botanical Garden, 2017.

Scott Opler Fellowship – Society of Architectural Historians, 2015.

The Chancellor’s Golda Meir Library Scholar Award, 2014.