New For W18: Persian Studies Courses

Taught by new hire Dr. Mostafa Abedinifard, 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, this course will take you on a journey to get a taste of classical Persian literature and its various genres, themes, and imagery, 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 later associated with Persian literary modernity). Having no prerequisites, the course provides you with the opportunity to read many instances of Persian literature created during the above period in Persia/the Greater Iran, that is, in regions that today would include the present-day Iran, Central Anatolia, and Central Asia; as well as in India. The course readings are organized chronologically, covering a variety of poets, authors, forms and themes. Though briefly, we will also discuss what is lost (and gained) in translation as well as how classical Persian literature has contributed to world literature. The course will include lectures, group activities, and video screening. By the end of the course, the students will put together a Digital Anthology of Classical Persian Literature in English Translation.


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 will introduce students to one of the most critically acclaimed cinemas in the world today, that is, postrevolutionary Iranian cinema, through the thematic lens of gender, sexuality, and diversity. During the semester, the students will watch and practice reading critically a wide variety of films by both world-renowned and new directors from Iran and the Iranian diaspora, focusing on the representations, constructions, and contestations of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, ability, and bodily normativity in and through those films. Film screenings, class lectures and discussions, post-screening mini-quizzes, and pertinent readings on Iranian cinema, society, and culture and on critical diversity studies will provide the students with the conceptual tools and the skill set required to complete their major group assignment. Despite its focus on the post-revolutionary era, the course will begin with an overview of Iranian cinema from its inception to the 1979 Revolution in order to provide sufficient context. The course argues that despite sociocultural and political challenges and restraints, an ever-growing thread of filmmakers within the postrevolutionary Iranian cinema has been effectively tackling vital issues concerning social and gender democracy in Iran. Importantly, these filmmakers represent no unified perspective, but a variety of perspectives, on the questions of gender, sexuality, and diversity.


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.