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Desire, Power and Agency: Iranian Female Poets Reading their Poems before the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
April 8, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT
Mahdi Tourage is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Social Justice and Peace Studies at King’s University College, London, Ontario. He is the author of Rumi and the Hermeneutics of Eroticism (Brill 2007) and the edited volume Esoteric Lacan (with Philipp Valentini, Roman & Littlefield 2019). His publications have appeared in Iranian Studies, International Journal of Zizek Studies and Body and Religion Journal. His areas of interest are Islamic religious thought, Sufism and postmodern theories of gender and sexuality.
This paper is an examination of desire staged during annual poetry readings by selected Iranian female poets in the presence of the Supreme Leader of the country. Using desire as a conceptual tool in its psychoanalytical formulation I will argue that the significance of these poetry readings exceeds the regime’s exploiting them for its own projects of legitimization. These widely popularized poems, especially the highly eroticized ones, open up discursive pathways towards pleasure, creativity, and feminist agency.