Open to the ICLS community, these sessions are an important opportunity for our graduate students to present selections from their dissertations-in-progress and receive feedback from students and faculty. Please see the three presentations below.
For more information or to schedule to present in our spring colloquium, please contact the ICLS offices.
Thursday, November 10, 2011, 4:15pm
Arthur Dudney, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
"New Aesthetics and the Power of Tradition in Eighteenth-Century Indo-Persian Poetry"
Arthur Dudney will present a chapter of his dissertation on Indo-Persian literary culture. ("Indo-Persian" refers to Persian-language texts written in India, where it was an important literary and administrative language.) Focusing on several works by the poet and critic Siraj al-Din Ali Khan Arzu (d. 1756), this chapter considers the eighteenth century as a hinge in Indian aesthetic theory. Indo-Persian literary practices were then still firmly anchored in a tradition defined by venerable Persian and Arabic critical texts, but Arzu and his circle recognized the tradition’s limitations. As in Europe at roughly the same time, the gap between the aesthetics of the Ancients [mutaqaddamīn] and of the Moderns [muta’akhkhirīn] could no longer be ignored. Arzu’s poetics attempted to ratify new poetic practices which had developed in the intervening centuries while still giving the Ancients pride of place. In doing so, he made note of Indian practices and used (what we would call) his linguistic and anthropological insights to change fundamentally the means of judging poetry. He was perhaps the first to rigorously define the differences in usage across the vast territory that used literary Persian—from Turkey across Central Asia to the Chinese frontier to India—in order to demonstrate conclusively that the Persian poetry written by Indians was as good, or better, than what Iranians wrote.
Thursday, November 17, 2011, 4:15pm *PLEASE NOTE THIS PRESENTATION HAS BEEN CANCELLED*
Ajay Chaudhary, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
“How to Read Gharbzadegi: Al-e Ahmad, the Heidegger Hypothesis and Benjaminian Critique”
In this chapter from his dissertation Religions of Doubt: Religion and Critique in Al-e Ahmad, Shariati, Benjamin and Adorno, ICLS and MESAAS graduate student Ajay Singh Chaudhary will suggest a different paradigm for reading Jalal Al-e Ahmad’s seminal work Gharbzadegi (translated often as “Occidentosis” or “West-toxication.”) While several scholars have written a substantial body of literature arguing that Al-e Ahmad was primarily influenced by twentieth century European conservative thought, in particular that of Heidegger and Junger, Chaudhary suggests that the far more pervasive influence in Al-e Ahmad’s work is that of Marx. Al-e Ahmad’s concept of gharbzadegi – which became hugely influential in the development of Islamism in Iran and throughout the Muslim world – originates not in a theory of ontologically authentic identity à la Heidegger but rather in a theory of inauthenticity, most heavily influenced by the idea of false consciousness. Furthermore, Al-e Ahmad’s deployment of theological categories and ideas in concert with a largely Marxist critique is best understood not as a desperate attempt to recollect and recreate a utopian past but, rather as parallel to the critique of modernity in the historical materialism of Benjamin.
Please note that the Oct. 27 presentation by Victoria Collis-Buthelezi and the Nov. 10 presentation by Ajay Chaudhary has been postponed until Spring 2012.