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Once upon a War: Truth and Subversion in Iranian War Literature

Tuesday 6 June 2023
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


Representation of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) in Iranian wartime and postwar prose fiction has been highly influenced by the Islamic Republic’s official narrative of that war known as the Holy Defense. Despite the original link to the Iran-Iraq War, the signification of the term Holy Defense goes beyond a reference to a military conflict and has evolved into a grand narrative built upon Shiite values and the essential irreconcilability with the evil Other.

While the so-called Holy Defense Literature has served as one of the cultural forums for the propagation of this ideological narrative, its truth-oriented critical reception within the official context has shown an explicit preference for nonfiction over fiction and, with the same logic, for autobiographical fiction over imaginative fiction of this genre. Being a matter of crucial importance, the relationship between a piece of literature and the reality behind it has often been commented upon in the paratextual material of specific works.

By highlighting the relationship between historical reality, ideological literature, and literariness as a textual quality, I will offer an alternative reading of the novel Suspension Bridge (2002) by Mohammad Reza Bayrami, one of the prominent writers of Holy Defense Literature. The analysis will shed light on the subversive effects of the narrative by underlining the generic tensions between war fiction and war memoirs addressed in the narratological structure of Bayrami’s novel.

For more information about this event, please contact the organizer, Siavash Rafiee Rad.

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