Late Persianate Literary Culture: Modernizing Conventions between Persian and Urdu

by Alexander Jabbari

Institution: University of California Irvine
Year: 2017
Keywords: Middle Eastern literature; Middle Eastern studies; South Asian studies; Iran; modernization; Persian; Persianate; Persian literature; Urdu literature
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2185642
Full text PDF: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/4dw251wh


Late Persianate Literary Culture: Modernizing Conventions between Persian and Urdu examines the modernization of Persianate literature and the emergence of modern literary historiography as a shared development between Iran and India in the 19th and 20th centuries. Focusing on the premodern tazkirah (literary anthology) genre as well as literary histories produced for new educational institutions, I examine how modernizing intellectuals and litterateurs appropriated the premodern literary tradition in developing the modern, nationalist genre of Persian literary history. By reading Persian and Urdu texts together, I trace intellectual and literary exchange between Iranians and Indians and contend that the Persianate literary tradition endures through the medium of Urdu. In this way, Late Persianate Literary Culture complicates and challenges nationalist assumptions about Persian literature and Iranian intellectual and literary history. I further argue that literary modernization was understood as a set of formal conventions, including standard typography and orthography, punctuation, and simplified prose, as well as thematic conventions, including Victorian-influenced sexual mores and a rise and fall model of history. These conventions were both products of modernizing technologies such as print, but also seen as productive technologies in and of themselves.