Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Miss Representation: The Portrayal of Women in Iranian Literature

Fri, September 28, 2018
Miss Representation: The Portrayal of Women in Iranian Literature
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. 


Mona Mostofi is a second year CMES Master's student pursuing the Dual Language Track. Her interests include Persian language and literature.
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