Weaving Femininity into Mysticism: Rereading Parvīn Iʿtiṣāmī’s “God’s Weaver”

Saturday May 14, 2022
4:00 PM - 5:15 PM

Poster design by Farzan Kermani

The Alireza Ahmadian Lecture in Iranian and Persianate Studies present: Weaving Femininity into Mysticism: Rereading Parvīn Iʿtiṣāmī’s “God’s Weaver” on May 14, 2022.

Date & Time:
Saturday, May 14 | 4pm (PDT)
Location: online via Zoom
This talk will be presented in English.
Free & open to the public. Click the link below to register for the event.

Registration Link:

Parvīn Iʿtiṣāmī (1907-1941), the first important twentieth-century woman poet of Iran, was well versed in classical Persian poetry. Her knowledge of English language and education at the American school for girls as well as her father’s translations from foreign literatures contributed to her appreciation of the modern ideas, including women’s rights. Unlike some of her contemporaries in the early twentieth century who tried to revolutionize the form of Persian poetry, she expanded the potentiality of poetic language in its traditional forms. Iʿtiṣāmī’s profound knowledge of mystical Persian literature and her awareness of gender inequalities as well as her familiarity with Western literature, particularly Walt Whitman, contributed to introducing a character in the poem “God’s Weaver”, a spider who possessed characteristics of a female and those of a mystic. Through this character, Iʿtiṣāmī formed an association between femininity and mysticism; challenged the patriarchal system, particularly, the patriarchal discourse of Persian mysticism; and the lethargy of the (mostly male) mystics.

Guest Speaker

Behnam M. Fomeshi, specializing in comparative literature, is interested in Iranian studies, American studies and in particular the intersection of the two. Behnam is a Humboldt alumnus and a Research Fellow at Monash University conducting research on the Persian reception of American literature. In addition to a Humboldt fellowship, he has received several grants including two for research at the University of St Andrews and Leiden University. His works have been widely published and his monograph, The Persian Whitman: Beyond a Literary Reception was released with Leiden University Press.


Marie Huber is Assistant Professor of Persian and Comparative Literature at Stanford University.

About the Alireza Ahmadian Lectures in Iranian and Persianate Studies: Alireza Ahmadian (1981 – 2019) was an enthusiastic researcher, a consummate socio-political analyst, and an opinion leader on foreign policy who nurtured the virtues of diplomatic dialogue and liberal democracy. Alireza was a proud and devoted UBC alumnus, supporter of UBC’s Asian Studies department, and beloved member of Canadian-Iranian Community. UBC’s Asian Studies department renamed this lecture series in his honour in 2019. Alireza’s friends in the community have provided funding to support this series, and this generous gift will see these important academic and community engagement events supported through to the end of the 2025/2026 academic year. To access the full list of events, click here.

Should you have any questions, please contact the Department of Asian Studies at Asian.Studies@ubc.ca.