Humanities Institute

Miss Representation: The Portrayal of Women in Iranian Literature

Fri, March 23, 2018 | GAR 1.102

12:00 PM

The History Department’s Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality Presents:

"Miss Representation: The Portrayal of Women in Iranian Literature"

Presented by
Mona Mostofi
Ph.D. Candidate, Media Studies, in the Department of Radio, Television and Film
The University of Texas at Austin

The representation of women within Persian literary tradition remained primarily from a male’s perspective until the 20th century. This research explores how Iranian writers, both men and women, critique older representations of women in Persian literature. Building upon the scholarship of Amy Motlagh and Farzaneh Milani, the work at hand supports the notion that while men consistently illustrate women as the ‘idealized image’ characterized by their beauty, women choose to express their own ideal woman by defying limitations and revealing deeper emotions. Modern writers reuse a single image of women to critique previous representations in Sadegh Hedayat’s novella The Blind Owl (1937) and Shahrnush Parsipour’s novel Touba and the Meaning of Night (1989). Hedayat, a male writer, critiques the classical image of women as the beloved, which is characterized by her superficial beauty. Parsipour, a female writer, in turn critiques Hedayat’s representation by including more personal qualities. By evaluating previous representations, these authors demonstrate how the portrayal of women in literature parallels the evolving place of women and women writers in  society. The representation of women has greatly evolved, making it crucial to re-orient ourselves and observe these distinctions in order to appreciate the shift in social consciousness.

About the Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality:

Sponsored by: ​Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality, in the Department of History

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