Higher Literary Seminar: Ali Rahmani Ghanavizbaf


Date: Tuesday 6 September 2022

Time: 14.00 – 16.00

Location: E890

At the HLS on 6 September, Ali Rahmani Ghanavizbaf will talk to us about “The Trans-Historical Novel: The Demonstration of History in the Post-Revolutionary Persian Novel.”

Ghanvizbaf is a PhD student at the Department of Linguistics and Philology at Uppsala University, whose area of study broadly involves modern Persian fiction, and particularly social and ideological aspects of the Persian novel and the relation between fiction and reality.


The 1979 revolution was a turning point in modern Iranian history. It marked a break with the Western conception of modernization and progress as well as the Pahlavi-espoused perception of national continuity predicated on 2500 years of monarchical history. Shortly thereafter, however, the revolution struck many—including the majority of writers and intellectuals—as a historical failure. It mainly left both “progress” and “nation” in their most precarious state.

This study aims to elaborate on the peculiar relationship of the post-revolutionary Persian novel with history. It holds that in its historical inquiry, the contemporary Persian novel tends to be “transhistorical” in that it bridges two or several historical periods to imply that the past (or the tradition) persists or reincarnates in the present experience. Transhistorical novels are hardly attendant to mimetic conventions of historical representation and often incorporate elements of fantasy and metafiction. Drawing on world-system theory and its implications for the study of world literature, this study aims to visit the Persian transhistorical novel as a literary form of a peripheral culture. It argues that the Persian transhistorical novel can be understood in the framework of Fredric Jameson’s “national allegory” as a form that projects psychological complexes of the private individual onto the cultural field, with a plot that can be read as a national historical experience. Through conjuring up the history in subjective experiences of delusional characters, the Persian transhistorical novel literalizes the “simultaneity of the non-simultaneous”, or the contradictory coexistence of the traditional and the modern in peripheral cultures. Likewise, the transhistorical novel itself embodies the hybridity of forms in the periphery, incorporating elements of traditional genres such as classical Persian historiography into the modern novelistic form.

The seminar takes place in room E890, Department of English, Stockholm University. All students and faculty of SU are welcome.