Dr. Rivanne Sandler is the Associate Professor Emerita of Iranian Women’s Literature in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. Her publications include studies of poets Parvin E’tesami, Simin Behbahani, and Forough Farrokhzad.
The seventh episode of Parse is an excerpt from a lecture given by Rivanne Sandler, “Context and Concept: Early 20th Century Women Poets” where she discusses how 19th-century and early 20th-century Iranian intellectuals advocated for female public participation in society as an essential part of their vision for a revitalized Iranian nation. These intellectuals were aided in their plans by a growing number of initiatives in female education, public discussions of women’s place within society in women’s publications and organizations, and Reza Shah Pahlavi’s government initiatives in the 1920s and 30s aimed at bringing females out of their traditional seclusion. Early poets took this opportunity to write poems commenting on this new reality. Their poems shed light on a pivotal moment in Iranian society where females were still bound by traditional norms and yet there was an emerging concept of females as capable Iranian citizens.