New For W18: Persian Studies Courses

Taught by new hire Dr. Mostafa Abedinefard, Assistant Professor Without Review of Persian Literary Culture and Civilization, the department is excited to expand its range of Persian Studies!

Winter 2018

ASIA360A A Specific Asian Literature in Translation - SP ASIAN LIT TRN Sections

Introduction to the literature of a linguistic area of Asia not covered in existing courses. Not given every year. Consult the Department for details. May be taken multiple times on different subjects for credit.

This course offers an unprecedented combination of readings from modern Iranian literature, and it provides you with a unique opportunity to enhance your understanding of that literature and of modern Iranian society and culture. We will be reading, contextualizing, and discussing select, representative instances of Iranian (diasporic) fiction, drama, and/or poetry since the mid-19thcentury. To provide you with an effective context to follow the course, I will begin with an overview of classical Persian literature, followed by a study of the paradigm shift that occurred in that literature during the mid-19th century. While familiarizing you with a range of formal and thematic transformations and adaptations which have emerged in modern Persian literature since more than a century ago, the course will argue that the questions of Iranian identity and modernity, which marked the inception of Persian literary modernity, have rarely stopped being tackled by Iranian literature. As if mirroring the ever-ongoing debates in Iranian public and intellectual arenas over the past century and so, modern Iranian literature (whether in “serious” or “humorous” forms) has been recurrently, although not unanimously, preoccupied with topics such as national identity (self-other), the state (the form of government, political tolerance, social justice, etc.), cultural hegemony and resistance, social institutions, religion, humanism, and gender and sexuality, among others.

Winter 2018

ASIA392 Classical Persian Literature in English Translation Sections

Works of classical Persian literature dating from the tenth to the seventeenth century (in English translation).

A solid background in Persian literature is useful for anyone who wants a better understanding of Asia and the Middle East. With the presumption that through literatures, we can visit cultures and times impossible for us to experience ourselves, in this course I will take you on a journey to get a taste of the beauties of classical Persian literature and some of its prevalent themes, imagery, and topics, in English translation, from the 10th century (when the New Persian language emerged) to the mid-19th century (when Persian literature experienced a paradigm shift now associated with Persian literary modernity). Having no prerequisites, the course provides you with the opportunity to read many contextualized Persian literary texts in various forms and genres, which were created during the above period in Persia/the Greater Iran, that is, in regions that today would include the present-day Iran, Central Anatolia, Central Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent. The course readings are organized around prevalent themes and forms/genres, including lyric, epic, romance, God, skepticism, humor and satire, mysticism, advice, and didacticism. Since classical Persian literature has undeniably affected the shaping of the modern worlds of Persian-speaking nations and communities, the course will particularly help you in understanding the present-day Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan as well as the diasporic communities associated with these nation-states. Though briefly, we will also discuss how classical Persian literature has contributed to world literature.

Winter 2018

ASIA394 Post-Revolutionary Iranian Cinema Sections

Gender politics, family relationships, and women's social, economic, and political roles in post-revolutionary Iran as shown through Iranian cinema.

This course introduces you to one of the most critically acclaimed cinemas of the world, that is, postrevolutionay Iranian cinema, through a thematic focus on the topics of gender and sexuality in Iranian society and culture, as they have been addressed, represented, constructed, and contested through Iranian films. Despite the above focus, and in order to provide an effective context for the course, I will begin with an overview of modern Iranian society and culture as well as the Iranian cinema from its inception in 1897 to 1979. Therefore, we will be watching a couple of representative films made before the revolution as well. The course argues that despite domestic social and political challenges and restraints, an ever-growing and strong thread of filmmakers within the postrevolutionary Iranian cinema (represented by both female and male directors) has effectively foregrounded and tackled vital issues concerning social and gender democracy in Iran. Our discussions of the films will cover topics such as gender identities and roles, the relations between and among masculinities and femininities, family relationships, gender politics, women’s social, economic, and political statuses, and transgender and homosexual persons and identities. To help you with our discussions, I have selected secondary scholarship on Iranian cinema, gender and sexual politics in modern Iran, and gender studies in general.

Winter 2018

ASIA460 Modern Asian Women in Narrative Sections

Experience of women in the context of a particular Asian culture, as seen through literature, popular culture, film and folklore. Narrative as a medium for the representation and constitution of gender.

What do a late-19th century Iranian woman’s satirical diatribe in response to a misogynist tract; an Iranian male author’s candid memoir of his infertility; a Persian joke cycle about the alleged cuckoldry of a city’s men; and a documentary about the proliferation of sex-reassignment surgery in post-revolutionary Iran tell us about the structures of gender in modern Iranian culture and society? In this course, we will be studying many literary, cinematic, folk, and popular culture texts/narratives (including the abovementioned) from modern Iran, putting them in their historical and sociopolitical contexts, in order to explore their representations, constructions, and contestations of dominant and/or marginalized notions of gender, as well as its intersection with sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, religion, and class in Iran from the late 19th-century to the present.