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Jesters, Cross-dressers, and Rebels: A Subversive History of Persian Literature

237A

This course seeks to offer an alternative history of Persian literature from the Middle Ages to the present by looking at literary forms and figures that are not part of the canon: the counter-classical traditions of parody and satire, the folk genres of shadow play and takhteh-howzi, the theatrical art of wandering minstrels, 20th century revolutionary songs, etc. We will be tracing the burlesque, scatological, carnivalesque, and, more generally, irreverent in Persian literature and see how these elements subvert established social norms and political orders. Even though the course will draw on materials from Persian literature and culture, the aim is broader: to ask questions about power, hierarchies, censorship, the formation of a literary canon through the exclusion of certain narratives, the role of humour and laughter, the subversive force of the female - even as a cross-dresser - in public performance, and profanity as a tool of protest against the hegemonic order. Open to undergraduates and graduates. Taught in English. If desired, selected readings can be provided in Persian.

Subject: 
COMPLIT
Course ID: 
218 835
Grading: 
Letter or Credit/No Credit