Illusory Originality: Appropriation, Repurposing, and Response in the Poems of Tahira Qurrat al-'Ayn

April 19, 2024 | 5:30PM

The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of the University of Chicago is honored to have Prof. Dominic Parviz Brookshaw as the fourth speaker in the Franklin Lewis Lecture Series of 2022-2025. The lecture will be in person and on zoom on Friday, April 19 at 5:30-7:30 PM US Central Time. Please see below the information about this talk and our speaker, and attached the poster of the lecture.


Illusory Originality: Appropriation, Repurposing, and Response in the Poems of Tahira Qurrat al-'Ayn


What does it mean to be original in a post-classical literary landscape such as that of early Qajar Iran? Should we even look for evidence of poetic innovation at the height of the Bāzgasht-i adabī, the archaistic Literary Return movement? This paper will seek to answer these questions through a re-examination of instances of appropriation, repurposing, and response in the poems commonly associated with the leading woman of the Babi movement, Fatima Baraghani (executed 1852), better known as Tahira Qurrat al-‘Ayn. Moving beyond stale debates around questions of misattribution, this paper will ask: What can Tahira’s appropriation of poems by others tell us about her reading habits and how she saw herself as a poet? How and why did Tahira repurpose poems by her contemporaries (and near contemporaries) to serve her own non-literary purposes? And what role did familiarity and gender play in Tahira deciding to respond to a particular poet or poem?


Dominic Parviz Brookshaw is Professor of Persian Literature and Iranian Culture at the University of Oxford and Senior Research Fellow in Persian at Wadham College. From 2011-2013 he was Assistant Professor of Persian and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. Dominic has published widely on medieval, early modern, and modern Persian literature and his articles have appeared in peer-reviewed journals including Iranian StudiesMiddle Eastern Literatures, and IRAN: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies. In 2020, his most recent book, Hafiz and His Contemporaries: Poetry, Performance, and Patronage in Fourteenth-century Iran (Bloomsbury, 2019), won the Saidi-Sirjani Book Award. He is currently working on a book-length study of poetry in early Qajar Iran. From November 2024, he will serve as the next President of the Association for Iranian Studies. 

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We are looking forward to seeing you then!