Panel Discussion: The Literary Voice of Iran: A Celebration of Mahmoud Dowlatabadi

Thu, October 30, 2008 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Free and Open to the Public

MAHMOUD DOWLATABADI is one of Iran’s most important writers. The author of numerous novels, plays, and screenplays, he is recognized as a leading proponent of social and artistic freedom in contemporary Iran. Dowlatabadi was among the first writers to insist that the everyday language of the Iranian people was suitable for high literary art, and has often examined the lives of outcasts and the oppressed in his work.

Born in 1940 in a remote farming region of Iran, Dowlatabadi worked as an agricultural day laborer until he made his way to Tehran, where he first worked in the theater before writing plays, stories, and novels. Dowlatabadi continues to live and work in Tehran, exploring Iran's rural and urban societies in his writing. While active in a variety of literary fields, he is perhaps best known for his novels Missing Soluch, The Legend of Baba Sobhan, and his monumental 5-volume novel, Kelidar. His works have also been brought to the big screen, including It's Winter, the award-winning 2005 film directed by Raffi Pitts. Missing Soluch has been translated to English and published in the United States by Melville House Publishing in 2006, and appeared on the NY Sun’s top-ten list of best novels for that year.

This event will celebrate Dowlatabadi’s pivotal work by screening a recent video-interview with him, and featuring a panel of scholars—including Kamran Rastegar, Hamid Dabashi, and Nahid Mozafarri—to discuss his oeuvre. The audience will also have the opportunity to hear Dowlatabadi's work read by Arta Khakpour, Neda Bolurchi, Kouross Esmaeli, among others.

Panelists' bios:

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of 18 books, and contributor or editor of many more. He is also the author of over 100 essays, articles, and book reviews in major scholarly and peer reviewed journals on subjects ranging from Iranian Studies, medieval and modern Islam, comparative literature, world cinema, and the philosophy of art (trans-aesthetics). His books include Theology of Discontent: The Ideological Foundation of the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1993), Staging a Revolution: The Art of Persuasion in the Islamic Republic of Iran (with Peter Chelkowski, 1999), Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, Future (2001), Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema (editor, 2006), Masters and Masterpieces of Iranian Cinema (2007), Iran: A People Interrupted (2007), and Makhmalbaf at Large: The Making of a Rebel Filmmaker (2008). His forthcoming book is Islamic Liberation Theology: Resisting the Empire (Routledge, 2008).

Nahid Mozaffari is the editor of the PEN Anthology of Contemporary Persian Literature (2006), and contributed to Targeting Iran (with David Barsamian, Ervand Abrahamian, and Noam Chomsky; 2007). She has taught Middle Eastern history at the New School in New York, and at Cabot University in Rome, Italy. She received her Ph.D. in history and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University. Her research on intellectuals in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution is being revised for publication.

Kamran Rastegar has written the first English translation of Mahmoud Dowlatabadi’s pivotal work Missing Soluch, a Novel (2007). He has also written Literary Modernity Between the Middle East and Europe: Transactions in Nineteenth-Century Arabic, Persian and English Literatures (2007), along with numerous articles and book chapters on various aspects of Iranian literature and cinema. He received his Ph.D. in comparative literature and Middle East studies at Columbia University in 2005, and taught at Brown University before joining the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Last updated: 2008-10-29 02:34:17

Mahmoud Dowlatabadi
Mahmoud Dowlatabadi
Missing Soluch; translated by Kamran Rastegar
Missing Soluch; translated by Kamran Rastegar

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