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Professor Michael Hillmann (University of Texas at Austin)
Reading Room of the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois, Urbana
free and open to the public
'What Persian Language and Literature Say about Iranian Culture, 1941'1978' begins with the citation of distinctive facts about today's Farsi Persian language that suggest distinctive features of Iranian culture. It then cites distinctive attitudes in Iranian culture about the distinctive roles of the Persian language and Persian literature in Iranian identity, suggesting the special relevance of the study of the nature of Persian and the content of Persian literature in fathoming today's Iran and Iranians.
The talk then turns to a summary of culturally revealing classic literary texts of the later Pahlavi Era (1941'1978) by Sadegh Hedayat (1903'1951), Nim Yushij (1895'1960), Jall l-e Ahmad (1923'1969), Mehdi Akhavn-e Sles (1928'2000), and Gholmhosayn S'edi (1935' 1985) and looks at four telling shorter poems by Forugh Farrokhzad (1935'1967), whom critics credit with introducing the feminine gender into Persian literature, more then a thousand years after Rudaki (d. 940/1), its first important poet.
The talk ends without wondering how history since 1941 might have differed had American academic political scientists and government analysts and policy-makers examined the contemporary Persian language or read its Persian literature. The talk ends also without voicing the notion that American universities should support Persian language and literature programs, not from language qua language or literature qua literature orientations, but for what they can offer to area studies social scientists and international business experts.