Spectacle of Secrets: Hafez in Pre-Revolutionary Iran

Apr 5, 2023, 12:15 pm1:15 pm
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  • Free, Open to the Public



Event Description
Ahoo Najafian event poster

This talk focuses on a debate in 1970s Iran about the poetry of Hafez of Shiraz (ca. 1315-1390) between Ayatollah Morteza Motahari (1919-1979) an influential theorist of the Islamic Republic, and Ahmad Shamlou (1925-2000), a prominent Modernist poet. At the center of the debate is the meaning of 'erfan in the poetry of Hafez, expanded and contracted to fit the political aspirations of the poet and the Ayatollah. She argues that this phase in refashioning of 'erfan shows the mutually constitutive relationship between "religion" and "literature" and the role they played in shaping the political discourse of pre-revolutionary Iran.

Ahoo Najafian is an Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Macalester College. She specializes in Persianate Islam and studies the relationship between religion and literature in contemporary Iran. She is currently working on a book project, entitled: Poetic Nation: Iranian Soul and Historical Continuity, about the intersection of religion, poetry, and politics in 20th-century Iran through the poetry of the famed 14th-century poet Hafez. Born and raised in Tehran, Najafian earned a BA and MA in English literature from Tehran University, an MA in Women's and Gender Studies from University of British Columbia, and a doctorate in Religious Studies from Stanford University.