On Thursday 11 and Friday 12 April, we are organising an international conference entitled ‘Femininity and Masculinity in Persian Culture and Literature’.
Gender and sexuality are among the most controversial yet understudied areas in Persian culture and literature. As an indispensable part of Persian culture, poetry has played a major role in shaping concepts such as femininity and masculinity. For example, one of the major genres of Persian poetry in which male Persian poets have created their masterpieces is the genre of romance. This genre centres around the two key concepts of masculinity and femininity and the interplay between them. Such literary heritage informs us about the male poets’ perspective about gender and power dynamics. The other players of the arena of poetry, female poets, bring in a different perspective into the scene. One example is the Īnjūʾīd princess, Jahān-Malik Khātūn (d. about 1393). With a Dīvān of 15 thousand couplets, three times larger than that of her contemporary world-renowned poet, Ḥāfiẓ (d. 1390), she complained about being ostracised. In the preface she wrote to her Dīvān, she excused herself for entering the craft of poetry as a woman. Parvīn Iᶜtiṣāmī (d. 1941) is a more contemporary example of being subject to gender bias in the world of Persian literature. Being disbelieved as a female poet, she wrote a poem to assert that she was a woman. The paradoxical overview of gender in the Persian literary tradition brings to mind questions such as: How does this imbalance crystallise in Persian poetry? How do Persian poets incorporate the patriarchal gender construct into their narratives? How does such a liminal gender construct influence the particular dynamics of genres such as the romance in Persian poetry? How did male Persian poets contribute to perpetuating the biased gender construct of femininity in their work? How did female poets deal with gender-biased power dynamics? If the patriarchal gender norms promote leaving women out of the arena of poetry, how does the communication of the genders take place in a genre like romance?
The programme of the conference will follow shortly.