November 24, 2021
“The Pan-Eurasian Crisis of Ghazal Poetics"
SPEAKER: Samuel Hodgkin
Date: November 30
Venue: AUCA, CH1
Abstract: Across the Persianate regions of late-19th and early-20th-century Eurasia, the discourse of modernization had a deep, perhaps even dominant aesthetic dimension. That is, apparently disparate anxieties about oriental indolence, homosexuality and unmanliness, flattery and unmeaning speech, and submission to despots all may be understood as elements of a coherent critique of a single literary mode: taghazzul. Insofar as ghazal was a “crown genre” (Opacki), it provided the formal-aesthetic framing for numerous literary and speech genres, and thus for the social and political order. This paper, then, considers the relationship between anti-taghazzul discourse and the transformed political order under encroaching European hegemony, in a period when these two factors produced a crisis of panegyric and a transformed poetics of political representation.
Bio: Samuel Hodgkin is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University. His research deals with literature and criticism written in prestige languages (Persian and Russian) and vernaculars (especially Turkic languages). He is interested in classical Persianate poetry and its afterlife in modernist literature and literary institutions across Central and South Asia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. His first book project, entitled “The Nightingales’ Congress: Literary Representatives in the Communist East,” shows how the Soviet internationalist project of world literature emerged from sustained engagement between leftist writers of West and South Asia and state-sponsored writers of the multinational Soviet East.