Writing the War Between Ambivalence and Loss: Arabic and Persian Literatures After the Iran-Iraq War

Amir Moosavi (EUME Fellow of the Mellon Foundation and VolkswagenStiftung 2016/17), Chair: Sinan Antoon (NYU / Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2016/17 / EUME Fellow 2008/09)

This talk treats the use of modernist literary aesthetics in writing about the Iran-Iraq War in the early postwar period in Iran and Iraq (1988-2003). Moosavi contends that writers of prose-fiction from both countries resorted to such aesthetics — in opposition to the wartime, state-sponsored heroic realisms — to simultaneously defang the official war narratives of each country from their entrenched binarism, as well as develop narratives of loss around the war. Their texts create an alternative literary discourse around the Iran-Iraq War that harnesses loss as a productive factor in writing about the war, challenging official narratives that were developed during the 1980s.

Amir Moosavi obtained his PhD from New York University's Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (2016). He also holds an MA in Near Eastern Studies from NYU (2007) and a BA in History and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin. His research interests include modern Arabic and Persian literatures, with an emphasis on Iran, Iraq and the Levant, and the cultural history of the modern Middle East. He has taught courses in Middle Eastern and Islamic history as well as Arabic and Persian languages and literatures at NYU, Bard College, and Hunter College. His dissertation focused on Arabic and Persian fiction from the Iran-Iraq War. He joined the EUME program at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin with a postdoctoral fellowship from the VolkswagenStiftung and W. Mellon Foundation.

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