As part of a series of three panels and a roundtable session on the topic of Iranian literary modernity, this panel’s central theme is the line that both divides and connects modern Persian literature with its postmodern outgrowths. It deals in the main with treatments of twentieth century Persian literature that seek to destabilize analytical accounts that discount organic developments as they emerge from the porous foundations of indigenous fiction writing. In this vein, a major impetus behind the creation of this panel was to generate interest in tracing epistemic transformations through intensive primary source investigation and in view of local and regional linkages.
The panel seeks to reveal the nuanced relationship between traditional, modern and postmodern categories, thus penetrating through narratives that package each pivotal moment in modern Persian literary development as decisive breaks with the past. This critique is presented with gravitas in Hamid Rezaei Yazdi's "Looking Back at the Future." His paper offers an alternative paradigm for historicizing Iranian literary modernity through an examination of the internal literary traditions that informed Jamālzādah's modernity. Of particular importance was Jamālzādah's recasting of the classical genre of munāzirah (debate) as a contestation between the new and old rather than the moral question of right or wrong. In "Ahrīman in Iran's Embrace," Arshavez Mozafari demonstrates how the nationalist romanticism of Sādiq Hidāyat (1903-1951/1282-1330 sh.) and Buzurg 'Alavī (1904-1997/1283-1376 sh.) should not be reduced to a crude and perfunctory anti-Arabism, but a revitalized reflection on the Iranian demonological tradition. Through the collusion of demonic amorism and secularist polemics and other themes, the nationalist romanticism of both authors interacted with and advanced prevailing demonological norms in Iranian society. In "Historical Meta-narrative and Perception of Time in Iranian Postmodernist Literature," Ingrid Naumann discusses the characteristics of Iranian postmodernism as an idiosyncratic phenomenon determined by a return to the roots and sources of Persian culture, space and time as a discourse with one's own cultural identity and past. Closely related is Imad Khalaf's Persian paper, "A Look at Contemporary Persian Novel Titles." This work analyzes postmodern novel titles as not only representatives of content and devices of marketability, but also expressions of an internal logic and dynamism that can be traced back to distinct historical conditions of emergence.