The Persianate Studies Workshop is pleased to welcome Dr. Alexander Jabbari, who will be workshopping a paper titled “Modernizing Persian Literature’s Homoerotic Heritage” on Monday, September 21, 5-7 PM on Zoom.
This paper is a chapter from Jabbari’s book project on the emergence of modern literary history in Persian and Urdu. The chapter analyzes how the themes of homoeroticism and obscenity coalesced as objects of scorn and relics of the premodern tradition against which modernizing historiographers positioned themselves as they developed the new genre of literary history. A frank and unabashed openness around homoerotic sexuality had characterized nearly a millennium of Persianate literature, but was replaced with Victorian-influenced puritanism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The talk reveals how this new sexual aesthetics for literary history developed through exchange between Iranian, Indian, and European litterateurs. Drawing from tazkirahs and literary histories as well as archival material such as letters and private diaries which hint at the sexual lives of Muslim and European Orientalists, it argues that puritanism was a literary convention, not a simple reflection of ideological biases.
In order to contextualize this chapter, Jabbari will also share the introduction to his book, Persianate Modernity: Language and Literary History between Iran and India. The introduction demonstrates the crucial role played by Urdu-speaking South Asians in the making of modern Persian literary history.
Alexander Jabbari is the Farzaneh Family Assistant Professor of Persian Language and Literature at the University of Oklahoma. He is a literary historian working at the intersections of literary studies, history, and philology. His research focuses on intellectual exchange throughout the Persianate world in the modern period. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East; Journal of Persianate Studies; International Journal of Islam in Asia; and elsewhere. He received his PhD in Comparative Literature with a designated emphasis in Feminist Studies from the University of California, Irvine.
Please email Shahla Farghadani (email@example.com) to receive a copy of Jabbari’s chapter in advance. The talk will be live on zoom at the following address:https://umich.zoom.us/j/91077743576 Meeting ID: 910 7774 3576
We look forward to seeing you there!
The Persianate Studies Workshop at the University of Michigan is pleased to host a virtual writing workshop with Dr. Sam Lasman who will be presenting a paper titled: “Hostile Others: What Did It Mean to Battle the Draconic in the Medieval Iranian World?”. The event will take place on Zoom from 5-7 pm (EST) on Monday, October 19, 2020.
This paper represents selections from Lasman’s study of encounters with azhdahа̄ in Persian verse epic. This in turn is part of a larger project on speculative historical fiction in the Global Middle Ages, which argues that the uncanny beings that populate both medieval European and Middle Eastern stories of the past are key interventions in the narration of origins for a wide array of cultural identities that emerge during this period. The azhdahа̄ particularly, as a hybrid entity combining human and reptilian qualities, challenges anthropocentric historical teleologies with a more complex vision of the relationships between civilization and wilderness, past and present, and other binaries.
Sam Lasman is a Humanities Teaching Fellow at the University of Chicago, where he received his PhD in Comparative Literature in Spring 2020. His research covers medieval narrative literature in the Middle East and Western Europe, with a particular focus on the role of the supernatural, monstrous, and uncanny in Persian, Welsh, and Old French literatures. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in venues including Viator, the Global Medieval Sourcebook, and the edited volume Persian Literature as World Literature.
Please RSVP to Shahla Farghadani at (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a Zoom link and a copy of Lasman’s paper.
We are looking forward to seeing you online soon!
The Persianate Studies Workshop at the University of Michigan is delighted to host a virtual writing workshop with Dr. Domenico Ingenito, who will be presenting a paper titled: “Enacting and Embodying Medieval Sufi Poetry: Performance, Performativity, and Sacred Eroticism“. The event will take place on Zoom from 5-7 pm (EST) on Monday, November 16, 2020.
This presentation draws upon the last two chapters of Domenico Ingenito’s forthcoming book on Sa‘di Shirazi’s ghazals (Beholding Beauty: Saʿdi of Shiraz and the Aesthetics of Desire in Medieval Persian Poetry) and outlines the scope of a new research project on lyric performance and performativity in the context of the relationship between medieval courtly ideals and Sufi thought and practices.
The project approaches the role of performance and performativity in the Persian ghazal by analyzing the historical contexts in which this lyric form circulated as a literary practice capable of expressing and catalyzing spiritual, sensual, and aesthetic ideals. The specific context of this investigation is a performance experience known as samāʿ. This technical term is often translated as “spiritual audition,” “mystical concert,” or through other expressions that try to grasp the literary, aural, and religious aspects of samāʿ as a performance ritual. While some modern scholars have focused on this practice by exclusively considering the “mystical” framework of the contexts in which it would take place, this study frames samāʿ as a “lyrical ritual” whose horizon of meanings and functions bridges the gap between the expression of sensual desire and the inward quest for the divine.
By comparing manuals, historical accounts, and poetic excerpts that comment on samāʿ, this paper will shed light on 13th-century ghazal poetry as a ritualistic tool that constantly oscillates between the realm of language and the territory of embodied experiences. In particular, the analysis of premodern ghazals that directly refer to the practice of samāʿ will show how some authors (Sa‘di Shirazi, as well as some of his imitators, Humām-i Tabrizi and Sayf-i Farghāni) would experience lyric poetry as a linguistic exercise aimed at producing physiological responses in the bodies of their audiences, both in the context of shared rituals, and through the practice of silent reading.
Domenico Ingenito is Director of the Program on Central Asia and Assistant Professor of Persian literature at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His research interests center on medieval Persian poetry, visual culture of Iran and Central Asia, gender and translations studies, and geocriticism. His most recent articles are: “Hafez’s “Shirāzi Turk”: A Geopoetical Approach,” “‘A Marvelous Painting’: the Erotic Dimension of Saʿdi’s Praise Poetry,” and “Sultan Maḥmūd’s New Garden in Balkh: An Exercise in Literary Archaeology for the Study of Ghaznawid Ephemeral Architecture.” The title of his forthcoming book is Beholding Beauty: Sa’di of Shiraz and the Aesthetics of Medieval Persian Poetry (Brill, December 2020).
Please RSVP to Shahla Farghadani at (email@example.com) for a Zoom link and a copy of Ingenito’s paper.
We are looking forward to seeing you there!