Parvin Etesami in the Literary and Religious Context of Twentieth-Century Iran

A Female Poet's Challenge to Patriarchy

Author: Zhinia Noorian

About this book

Parvīn Etesami (1907-1941) is among the few Persian female poets, who has gained nationwide popularity, while her authorship was disbelieved. She is celebrated in a plethora of publications every year in Iran and beyond. Etesami is the only female poet who has remained part of the daily lives of people in her society for about a century. Her poetry appears in school curricula both before and after the Revolution of 1979. People use her poetry on social media, particularly in critical times. It is also used in public speeches by Ali Khamenei (r. 1989-present) the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic. This book engages with Etesami in the transformational context of the early twentieth century in Iran to investigate the controversies around her identity as a popular female poet. It demonstrates that the reason for Etesami paradoxical popularity was not merely her gender, but the transgression of patriarchal Iranian-Muslim gender norms.


Zhinia Noorian received her PhD in Persian and Iranian Studies from Utrecht University in 2023. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher for the ERC-Advanced Grant, Beyond Sharia: The Role of Sufism in shaping Islam, in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Utrecht University.

Format: Paperback

Pages: 284

ISBN Print: 9789087284121

ISBN ePDF: 9789400604575

Published: 16 August 2023

Language: English

  • Pouneh Shabani-Jadidi, University of Chicago

    The subject matter is a timely study of one of the most famous yet less-studied poets of twentieth-century Iran. The author’s command of the existing literature on the subject matter, as well as prevailing theories of Gender and Transgression Studies, enables her to present her novel arguments smoothly and efficiently. This quality makes her research very readable and informative.

  • Nacim Pak-Shiraz, University of Edinburgh

    This is a new and original piece of work providing new analyses of Parvīn Iᶜtiṣāmī’s poetry and her critical role in the development of Persian literature. By examining the neglected aspects of Iᶜtiṣāmī’s work, Noorian challenges the dominant discourse on the poet and her place in Persian literature. Rather than being a recluse, as she is often labelled, Noorian demonstrates how Parvīn was engaged with the challenges of her society, calling for reform. This research convincingly argues that Parvīn should, therefore, be read as part of the genre of committed literature.

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