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A Revolution in Rhyme: Poetic Co-option under the Islamic Republic

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Duration: 0:58:52 | Added: 04 Mar 2021
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Duration: 0:38:32 | Added: 04 Mar 2021
Guest author Dr Fatemeh Shams (Assistant Professor of Modern Persian Literature, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania) talks with Booktalk host Dr Zuzanna Olszewska (University of Oxford).

Dr Zuzanna Olszewska is Associate Professor in the Social Anthropology of the Middle East, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford.

Book available for purchase online at A Revolution in Rhyme OUP Academic discount with promo code AAFLYG6 to save 30%


A Revolution in Rhyme: Poetic Co-option under the Islamic Republic offers, for the first time, an original, timely examination of the pivotal role poetry plays in policy, power and political legitimacy in modern-day Iran. Through a compelling chronological and thematic framework, Shams presents fresh insights into the emerging lexicon of coercion and unrest in the modern Persian canon. Analysis of the lives and work of ten key poets traces the evolution of the Islamic Republic, from the 1979 Revolution, through to the Iran-Iraq War, the death of a leader and the rise of internal conflicts. Ancient forms jostle against didactic ideologies, exposing the complex relationship between poetry, patronage and literary production in authoritarian regimes, shedding light on a crucial area of discourse that has been hitherto overlooked. (Book description from OUP website)

Dr Fatemeh Shams is a specialist in Persian literature. She earned her Ph.D in Oriental Studies from University of Oxford, Wadham College. Before joining Penn, she has taught Persian language and literature in various academic institutions including University of Oxford, University of SOAS and Courtauld Institute of Art in the United Kingdom.

Her work focuses on the intersection of literature, politics and society. Fatemeh is interested in the evolution of poetry and patronage in the Persian literary tradition and the representation and transformation of this relationship in modern Iran. She has published articles and book chapters on poetry, patronage and politics in the Iranian context. Her forthcoming book A Revolution in Rhyme: Poetic Co-option Under the Islamic Republic (Oxford University Press, 2020) is particularly concerned with the question of poets and patrons in the past and present Iran. In her book she demonstrates the role of state-sponsored literary institutions and the ideological state apparatus in promoting state-sponsored literature in the post-revolutionary Iran. She has recently won the Humboldt Foundation Fellowship to join Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin in 2021 in order to embark on her second book project on exile and exilic writing in Persian tradition.

Fatemeh is also an internationally acclaimed, award-winning poet and has so far published three collections of poetry in Persian and English. Her first collection, 88 (Berlin: Gardoon, 2012) won the Jaleh Esfahani Poetry Award in London, UK. Her third bilingual collection, When They Broke Down the Door (Washington: Mage Publisher, 2015), translated by the world-famous British literary scholar, translator and poet, Dick Davis, won Latifeh Yarshater Book Award in 2016. Her poetry and her translations have been so far featured in the World Literature Today, Michigan Quarterly Review, Life and Legends, Poetry Foundation, Jacket 2, Penn Sound and more. The upcoming Penguin Anthology of 1000 Years of Poetry by Persian Women Poets translated by Dick Davis (2021) has featured a number of her poems.

Website: https://mec.sas.upenn.edu/people/fatemeh-shams

Dr Zuzanna Olszewska is a social anthropologist specialising in the ethnography of Iran and Afghanistan, with a focus on Afghan refugees in Iran, the Persian-speaking Afghan diaspora, the anthropology of literature and cultural production, and digital ethnography. She is the author of The Pearl of Dari: Poetry and Personhood among Young Afghans in Iran (Indiana University Press, 2015), an ethnographic inquiry into how poetic activity reflects changes in youth subjectivity in an Afghan refugee community, based on work with an Afghan cultural organisation in Mashhad, Iran. Website: https://www.isca.ox.ac.uk/people/dr-zuzanna-olszewska#tab-267761

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