Discussion Group: American Literature and Politics of Reception in Iran between Two Revolutions

In this session, Behnam M. Fomeshi discussed the reception of American literature in Iran between two revolutions i.e., the Persian Constitutional Revolution (1905–11) and the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The reception of American literature from the 1900s to 1979 can be divided into four periods: 1905–22, 1922–41, 1941–53, and 1953–79. A significant aspect of American literature’s reception between two revolutions was its “political-ness.” The dominance of a leftist Iranian political party over the intellectual scene led to a certain reading of American literature in the decades preceding the 1979 Revolution. This is evident in the history of the translation of American literature between the two revolutions, and in the leftist reception of American literature—especially Walt Whitman—in Iran.


Behnam M. Fomeshi specializes in comparative literature and is interested in Iranian Studies, American Studies, and, in particular, the intersection of the two. He is a Humboldt Foundation alumnus and a Research Fellow at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia) and is conducting research on the Persian reception of American literature. In addition to the Humboldt Fellowship, he has received several grants including two for research at the University of St Andrews and Leiden University. His works have been widely published and his monograph, The Persian Whitman: Beyond a Literary Reception, was released with Leiden University Press.