As a whole, my dissertation entitled “Strong Warriors, Liminal Lovers, and Beardless Men: Male Bodies and Masculinities in Pre-modern Persian Literature” examines how pre-modern Persianate poets thought of the interplay between gender, corporeality and the self in their literary oeuvres. By drawing on theoretical frameworks on the study of gender and sexuality as they intersect with race, class, emotions, and religion, I show how those intersections are embodied by literary characters in my source texts. To that aim, I contrast different constructions of masculinities in six long narrative poems (masnavis) – three epics and three romances – written between the eleventh and the seventeenth century CE. My project thus analyzes the manifold permutations of pre-modern Persianate masculinities and aims to contribute to a more diverse view of gender in the Global Middle Ages.
The Marty Center seminar has provided me with a space and a community to help put me on track to finish the last chapter of my dissertation. I am grateful to be able to profit from the interdisciplinary views on the study of religion that the Marty Center fosters in its seminar. The feedback and critique of fellow scholars is beneficial not only for my own research, but also in that it has introduced me to new perspectives on the study of religion – something I especially appreciate as someone not trained in the Divinity School. The Marty Center Seminar is therefore a wonderful forum for my research on theways in which religion is implicated in the construction of masculinities in the ʿAlināmeh (composed in 1089 CE), a narrative poem featuring the fourth caliph and first Shiʿi Imam ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb. As I believe that dissertations are formed through community input, I am excited to share my work it with the Marty Center fellows as well as a wider audience.