EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 27 Mai 2020 | 18:00–19:30

A Revolution in Rhyme: Poetic Co-Option and Appropriation under the Islamic Republic

Fatemeh Shams (U of Pennsylvania / EUME Fellow 2019/20), Chair: Amir Moosavi (Rutgers U / EUME Fellow 2016/17)

Literature, particularly poetry, is central to everyday life and politics in Iran. The relationship between Persian poetic discourse and power has been pivotal in the development of Iran’s socio-political structure and national identity. No government, however, has been as conscious of this crucial dynamic as the Islamic Republic theocracy that evolved out of the revolution of 1979. Throughout the revolution, and the Iran-Iraq War that followed, the poetic form was deployed to mobilize the nation and reinforce the state’s ideological apparatus. The ruling elites identified the one thing every Iranian could access—poetry, and a love for poetry—and engineered this to become a powerful propaganda tool. By delving deeper into the origins and consequences of this relationship between poetry and power in post-revolutionary Iran, this talk introduces a new canon of poetry that rose to prominence after the establishment of the Islamic Republic as well as the politics of this literary recanonization in the past four decades.

Fatemeh Shams is Assistant Professor of Modern Persian Literature in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. She has published articles and book chapters on the official literature and cultural institutions under the Islamic Republic, contemporary Persian literature and social history of Persian literature. Her forthcoming book, A Revolution in Rhyme: Official Poets of the Islamic Republic (Oxford University Press, 2020), is concerned with the rise of the so-called Islamic Republican official poetry, the state-sponsored literary production and the role of specific cultural institutions in such productions in post-revolutionary Iran. Fatemeh is also an award-winning poet. She has so far published three poem collections. Her most recent collection When They Broke Down the Door, translated into English by Dick Davis, received the 2016 annual book award (Latefiteh Yarshater literary book award). She was recognized as one of the leading voices of exile and diaspora literature when she won the Jaleh Esfahani poetry prize for the best young Iranian poet in 2012.

In accordance with the measures against the spread of the coronavirus, this seminar session will be held virtually. Depending on approval by the speakers, the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available via the account of the Forum Transregionale Studien on Soundcloud.

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