Disturbing the City of Isfahan: An Urban Education of the Senses
Presented by Dr. Kathryn Babayan (University of Michigan)
You are invited to attend the 14th Annual Drs. Fereidoun and Katharine Mirhady Endowed Lecture in Iranian Studies.
This is a free event and is open to the general public.
Writing in seventeenth century Isfahan experienced a transformation beyond epigraphy and the medium of stone or ceramics onto the surface of a sheet of paper with the assemblage of a new kind of book, the anthology, or majmu’a/muraqqa’ . Monumental public writing and the more intimate writing on paper reveal a larger cultural turn towards writing. Albums of calligraphy, paintings, letters, essays and poetry were produced at court and in elite households as part of a cultured practice of adab , or etiquette. I am interested in the multiplication of materials for writing in and about the city. Writing on paper, the attention to subjective knowledge production, and its assemblage into anthologies represents different ways of being in the city, a subject that will be explored in this talk. I will concentrate on the genre of shahrashub (city disturbance), written about Isfahan as allegory of a spiritual journey to paradise, copied and collected in anthologies produced in Isfahan for private consumption.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Kathryn Babayan is Associate Professor of Iranian History and Culture at the Department of Near Eastern Studies and the Department of History, as well as the Director of the Armenian Studies Program, University of Michigan. She specializes in the cultural and social histories of early modern Iran with an interest in Shi’ism, Sufism, as well as Gender and Sexuality. She is the author of Mystics, Monarchs and Messiahs: Cultural Landscapes of Early Modern Iran (2003); co-author of Slaves of the Shah: New Elites of Safavid Iran, with Sussan Babaie, Ina Baghdiantz-McCabe, and Massumeh Farhad (2004). Most recently, together with her colleague Afsaneh Najmabadi, they have co-edited a volume entitled Islamicate Sexualities Studies: Translations Across Temporal Geographies of Desire, (2008). She is currently working on a monograph entitled The City as Anthology: Visualizing Cultures of Literacy in early Modern Isfahan.