Facebook Icon podcast icon Join our mailing list Icon

Image for Poca Logo
Image for Bidel-Large-tt-xxe.jpg

Three Aspects of the Absolute (India, Rajasthan, Jodhpur, 1823 | Mehrangarh Museum Trust RJS 2399)

Steadfast Imagining Session 5: Bidel in Modern Central Asia, South Asia, Afghanistan, Iran: The Geopolitics of Literary Legacy

The Geopolitics of Literary Legacy

Session 5 of the multidisciplinary workshop series on Steadfast Imagining: Lyric Meditation, Islamic Philosophy, and Comparative Religion in the Works of Bidel of Delhi (d. 1720)

Friday, December 18, 2020
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM (Pacific Time)

Click here to register

Image for RSVP ButtonImage for Calendar ButtonImage for Calendar Button

RSVP Here (Zoom registration)

This is Session 5 of the multidisciplinary workshop, Steadfast Imagining: Lyric Meditation, Islamic Philosophy, and Comparative Religion in the Works of Bidel of Delhi (d.1720) organized and led by Prof. Domenico Ingenito (UCLA, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures) and Dr. Jane Mikkelson (University of Virginia) in cooperation with scholars working in Persian Studies, Islamic Studies, South Asian, Near Eastern, and Central Asian Studies, English, Anthropology, and Comparative Literature. All sessions will be held in English, and all reading materials (both primary and secondary sources) will be circulated and presented in English translation.

Bidel’s reception history in modern Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia, and South Asia is a fascinating and complex case study in the geopolitics of literary legacy. In Iran, Bidel has been dismissed as an obscure poet whose difficult style relegates him to a peripheral corner of the Persian canon. Bidel’s legacy in South Asia is complicated by the emergence of vernacular traditions in northern India and the gradual disappearance of Persian from the Subcontinent shortly after Bidel’s death. In modern Central Asia, Bidel plays an important role in the rise of national literatures during the Soviet period, and he currently enjoys a flourishing afterlife in Afghanistan. Kevin Schwartz, Zuzanna Olszewska, Samuel Hodgkin, and Ahmad Rashid Salim join us to talk about Bidel’s legacy and the place of Bidel’s reception history in modern reevaluations of Persian literary history.
A discussion featuring Kevin Schwartz (Czech Academy of Sciences), Zuzanna Olszewska (Oxford), Samuel Hodgkin (Yale), and Ahmad Rashid Salim (UC Berkeley)

Kevin Schwartz will discuss Bidel's historiographical legacy in general and how debates over his poetry have shaped the contours of Persian literary history writing in Iran and elsewhere.
Samuel Hodgkin will talk about Bedil's role in the Khrushchev Thaw in Transoxania. While Muscovites started reading Dos Passos and Remarque and going to see Picasso and the Impressionists, in post-Stalin Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, it was the revival of Bedil as a philosophical and literary icon that signaled the shift in cultural politics.
Ahmad Rashid Salim will discuss the role of musicians and their connection to Bidel scholars in Kabul, focusing on how the selection of poetry, the venues of performance, and the proliferation of access to Bidel's poetry increased the reception and appreciation of his poetry among the wider public.
Zuzanna Olszewska will focus on the role of Bidel reception, memorialisation and scholarship among Afghan refugee poets in Iran. In a situation of legal and social marginalisation of Afghans in Iran, refugee poets and literary scholars have capitalised on their edge in Bidelshenasi to achieve three things. One, to recall a broader, pre-national Persianate literary heritage; two, to celebrate the unique association of Afghan poets with sabk-e hendi; and three, to subtly push back against Iranian exclusionary nationalism in one of the few arenas available to them.

RSVP Here (Zoom registration)

For more information about the workshop as a whole, including the complete schedule of meetings, please see the announcement here.

The workshop is sponsored and organized by UCLA Program on Central Asia (in collaboration with Iranian Studies), and co-sponsored by the Center for India and South Asia, the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and the Center for Near Eastern Studies.

For questions about the event, please contact caw@international.ucla.edu

Sponsor(s): Program on Central Asia, Center for India and South Asia, Center for Near Eastern Studies, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Iranian Studies