UNC-Chapel Hill, spring 2008

Religion and Culture in Iran, 1500-Present

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Parallel public events and performances are in green
Deadlines and important dates are in red
Films are in blue
* = Instructor out of town
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I. Orientation To Persian Culture

1.  Jan. 10   Introduction
Reading: Nikki Keddie, "Introduction," in Keddie and Matthee, pp. 3-11
maps of Iran from the University of Texas collection
Muslim countries ca. 1500 (University of Pennsylvania)
ethnic and linguistic atlas of Iran (Princeton University)
article "Safavids" from Encyclopaedia of the Orient (with a handy dynastic list)

10 January at 7:00 p.m. in GEC 4003. The CSEEES and the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations will jointly sponsor the showing of an Uzbek film--"Alisher Navoi" (1947). This is on the life and cultural contributions of a major statesman of the Timurid kingdom centered in Herat (nowadays in Afghanistan). Navoi (or Nava'i, who died in 1501) was a major patron of Persian literature, but he was also one of the founders of Chaghatay Turkish literature, which is represented today by the Uzbek language. Navoi has accordingly become a major cultural hero in modern times, first in the Soviet Union, and now in Uzbekistan.  It is noteworthy that this film was made during the period of Stalin, and its relationship with his policy on nationalities is worth considering.
After the showing, we will have a reception and a faculty-led discussion. This event can be the subject of a journal entry.

Clip; Background on Alisher Navoi  (from Uzbek Embassy in Belgium)

2.  Jan. 15   Iran and Persianate Culture
Reading: Juan R. I. Cole, "Iranian culture and South Asia, 1500-1900," in Keddie and Matthee, pp. 15-35
Questions: linguistic, cultural, and religious links between Iran and India
Poster for University of Washington conference, Jan. 17-18

*3.  Jan. 17   Nomadic Tribes and the Iranian State
Reading: Thomas J. Barfield, "Turk, Persian, and Arab: Changing Relationships between Tribes and State in Iran and along Its Frontiers," in Keddie and Matthee, pp. 61-88
Films: "Grass: a Nation's Battle for Life" 1925 (70 minutes).
A documentary in which Merian C. Cooper, Ernest Schoedsack, and Marguerite Harrison travel through Asia Minor and Iraq to reach a tribe of nomads in Iran known as the Bakhtyari. They follow the tribe on its forty-eight day trek across deserts, streams, and mountains to reach pasture for their flocks. These three people were the first Westerners to cross the Zardeh Kuh Pass and the first to make this migration with the tribes.
Website: Qashqai.net
Questions: nomads and urban dwellers in history

4.  Jan. 22  Understanding Persian poetry
Reading: Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, "Beyond Translation: Interactions between English and Persian Poetry," in Keddie and Matthee, pp. 36-60
Questions: is there such a thing as "literal" translation?
see websites on Persian Literature on Links page
Comparative translations of Rumi (use Internet Explorer) 
Ali Zomorodi's web site on the traditional classical music of Persia (Iran)
The Shayda Institute for Iranian Classical Music
Radio Darvish
Rumi poem from Mohammad Reza Lotfi's "Mystery of Love" album. Translation of several of these poems available here (UNC onyen and password needed).

5.  Jan. 24  Twelver Shi`ism in Modern Iran
Reading: Mottahedeh, pp. 78-98, 141-144, 198-214
Questions: devotional attitudes toward the Imams; philosophical and legal aspects of Shi`ism; the growth of the authority of Shi`i jurisconsults

6.  Jan. 29   Twelver Shi`ism, cont'd (continue discussion from last time) 
Examine one of the children's books on 12er Shi`ism at the Kids Korner of the Ahlul Bayt Digital Islam Literary Project (note: Ahlul Bayt or "people of the house" refers to the family of the Prophet Muhammad, specifically Fatima, Ali, Hasan, and Husayn)
Reference websites:
Muhammad's designation of `Ali at the pond of Khumm (Ghadir Khumm)
Najaf and Kerbela (two sites in Iraq that are much in the news these days)
The Life and Times of Shaykh Murtada Ansari (a Qajar jurisconsult) 
Keeping the Shi'ites Straight, by Roy Parviz Mottahedeh (Religion News, volume 6, No. 2, Summer 2003).

7.  Jan. 31   Situating Qajar Iran in relation to Europe
Reading: Rudi Matthee: "Suspicion, Fear, and Admiration: Pre-19th-century Iranian Views of the English and the Russians," in Keddie and Matthee, pp. 121-45; 
Monica M. Ringer, "The Quest for the Secret of Strength in Iranian Nineteenth-Century Travel Literature: Rethinking Tradition in the Safarnameh," ibid., pp. 146-61 

II. Morier's Hajji Baba of Isfahan and Qajar Iran:
Representation of Culture in the Novel and Travel Narrative 

8.  Feb. 5    Hajji Baba 1
Reading: Morier, chapters 1-27
Notes on Hajji Baba

9.  Feb. 7    Hajji Baba 2
Reading: Morier, chapters 28-54

10.  Feb. 12  Hajji Baba 3 notes
Reading: Morier, chapters 54-80

III. The emergence of modern Iran

11.  Feb. 14  Nationalism & Science notes
Reading: F. Kashani-Sabet, "Cultures of Iranianness: The Evolving Polemic of Iranian Nationalism," in Keddie and Matthee, pp. 162-81;
J. Rostam-Kolayi, "Foreign Education, the Women's Press, and the Discourse of Scientific Domesticity in Early-Twentieth-Century Iran," in Keddie and Matthee, pp. 182-202

IV. Iranian Film and Novel

*12.  Feb. 19  Iranian film: an overview
Reading: Hamid Naficy, "Cinematic Exchange Relations: Iran and the West:" in Keddie and Matthee, pp. 254-280
Film: "Rang-e khoda/The Color of Paradise" (90 min. 1999; Majid Majidi) - full description here
[continue next time]

*13.  Feb. 21 Iran on film: documentary
Film: "Flame of Persia"    (1972,  60 min)    65-V7724
        "This film depicts the history of Iran, from its beginnings in 500 BC, through centuries of change, into modern times.  Throughout its long history, Iran has preserved the spirit of the Persian people" (official description). This is the now-classic documentary of Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi’s ostentatious celebration of the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire in 1971. The DeMille-like pageant portrays the Shah’s claim to legitimacy via his own personalized version of history which conveniently omits all non-Persian dynasties: an excellent basis for understanding the roots of the Iranian Revolution. Notice the U.S. representative at this festivity, then-V.P. Spiro Agnew. Narrated by Orson Welles. Directed by Shahrokh Golestan.  Produced by National Film Board of Iran.  

Monday, Feb 25.  Dinner at Ernst home, 6:30 pm, followed by traveler impersonations.

14.  Feb.  26  My Uncle Napoleon and modern Iranian society, part 1

15.  Feb. 28  My Uncle Napoleon and modern Iranian society, part 2
Article "Conspiracy Theories," from Encyclopedia Iranica

*16.  Mar. 4  My Uncle Napoleon and modern Iranian society, part 3 
Midterm traveler paper due at 5 pm in Saunders 125 mailbox.

*17.  Mar. 6  My Uncle Napoleon and modern Iranian society, part 4 

spring break

V. Intellectual Origins of the Iranian Revolution 

18.  Mar. 18 
Reading: Mottahedeh, pp. 7-78, 98-133
Notes on Mottahedeh

19.  Mar. 20
Reading: Mottahedeh, pp. 134-141, 144-197, 215-248
Iranian.com links on the revolution of 1978-79
another timeline

20.  Mar. 25 
Reading: Mottahedeh, pp. 249-336
Constitution of Iran

21.  Mar. 27 
Reading: Mottahedeh, pp. 337-390
A theocratic state diagram
A secular state diagram

VI. Art under the Safavids

22.  Apr. 1  Architecture of the Safavids
Reading: Grove Encyclopedia of Art, online articles on "Safavids. I. Introduction; II. Family Members"; "Islamic art, §II, 7(ii): Architecture, c 1500–c 1900: Iran"
Film: "Geometry, Symmetry and Order"
Welcome to Isfahan!
The city of Bam
Archnet Islamic Architecture site (MIT): Isfahan
Islamic Art and Architecture bibliography and links from the Sloane Art Library at UNC
Questions: the role of geometry in art; monumental architecture as a cultural statement

23.  Apr. 3  The Art of Calligraphy
Reading: Ernst, "The Spirit of Islamic Calligraphy"
Web Site on "The Art of Arabic Calligraphy"
Your Name in Arabic Script
Questions: spiritual aspects of Islamic calligraphy; the relation between aesthetic experience and content in Islamic calligraphy

24.  Apr. 8  Visit to Ackland Art Museum
Reading: Abolala Soudavar, "The Early Safavids and Their Cultural Interactions with Surrounding States," in Keddie and Matthee, pp. 89-120
Questions: relation between political prestige and art
Final essay topics should be determined by this date, with preliminary bibliographies

VII. Revolutionary Iran 

25.  Apr. 10  The Revolution, 1
Reading: The "Unthinkable" Revolution in Iran, 1977-1979, by Charles Kurzman, chapters 1-3

April 11. Shirin Ebadi (Nobel laureate) at Richard White Auditorium, Duke East campus, 5:30 pm

26.  Apr. 15  The Revolution, 2
Reading: The "Unthinkable" Revolution in Iran, 1977-1979, by Charles Kurzman, chapters 4-5
Web site: Overview of Iranian family law from the Islamic family law web site (Prof. Abdullahi an-Na`im, Emory University) (refer to this in connection with the film if you write a journal entry on the film)
Film: Divorce Iranian Style
First drafts of final essay due in class

27.  Apr. 17  The Revolution, 3 (Guest: Prof. Charles Kurzman)
Reading: The "Unthinkable" Revolution in Iran, 1977-1979, by Charles Kurzman, chapters 6-8

April 18, Abdullahi An-Na`im, "The Future of Shari`ah," GEC auditorium, 5:00 pm

April 21. Peer-edited papers returned to authors in editing meetings by this date

28.  Apr. 22  The Reformists (Guest: Prof. Omid Safi)
Reading: Omid Safi, "Reforming Islam in the “Axis of Evil: The Islamic Reform Movement of Post-revolutionary Iran" (UNC onyen and password required)

29.  Apr. 24   Current Foreign Policy Concerns

Reading: Gary Sick, "Iran's Foreign Policy: A Revolution in Transition," in Keddie and Matthee, pp. 355-374
Farideh Farhi, "Iran's 'Security Outlook'" (MERIP Reports, July 9, 2007)
Farideh Farhi, "Iran’s Nuclear File: The Uncertain Endgame" (MERIP Reports, October 24, 2005)
Required final journal entry: What have you learned in this class about religion and culture in Iran? Explain, using two examples that have most affected your thinking.

Research papers due in Saunders 125 mailbox by Tuesday, May 6, 11 A.M.