Browsing by Author "Abedinifard, Mostafa"
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ItemBook review: Autobiographical comics: life writing in pictures(2014) Abedinifard, MostafaThe genre of autobiographical comics has occupied an important function in the increasing acceptance of comics as a literary and artistic medium worthy of critical contemplation. This has been particularly the case in Europe and North America during the past few decades. However, a theoretical examination of autobiographical comics had not been subject to a book-length study. El Refaie’s long-awaited book therefore fills a large and consequential gap within comics studies. As someone who was born and grew up in Iran, I come from a culture in which graphic narratives do not play a significant role. In 2009, for the elective portion in my graduate course requirements, I ventured a course on autobiographical comics that focused on the issues of memory and historical representation. The instructor put together a course packet of various essays related to autobiographical comics. This highlighted the need for a general work that could be used as a textbook. I think El Refaie’s book also more than meets such a need. ItemBook review: Gender and humour: interdisciplinary and international perspectives(2015) Abedinifard, MostafaThe advent and growth of feminist movements and theories during the 20th century, which foregrounded gender as an essential aspect of human identity, called for unprecedented attention to gender itself as well as its relation to other social systems and structures, including language. Ever since, a gradually increasing number of scholars from various disciplines have studied the nexus of gender and humour. The resulting body of research, due to its interdisciplinarity, is necessarily extensive and includes a wide range of topics and research methods. However, the extent of this research is barely comparable to the bulk of gender studies, which normally concern gender in relation to the serious. This remarkable imbalance deserves attention. Two probable reasons come to mind: one is the long-standing and general ambivalence academics have had about humour as a serious scholarly topic (see Davis 1995; Kuipers 2008); the other, at least for feminist studies of humour, is the problematic tradition of feminism and feminists being the object of ridicule by mainstream media (Ferree 2004). Therefore, Chiaro & Baccolini’s edited volume is a fortunate and welcome addition to the field. ItemBook review: Jokes and targets(2013) Abedinifard, MostafaChristie Davies’ Jokes and Targets is a collection of essays focusing on certain contemporary Western (primarily Anglo-American) joke cycles. The book involves the engaging question of “how certain cycles come about and why particular groups rather than others become the targets of these jokes." The main targets discussed by Davies include dumb and oversexed blondes, the sex-obsessed French, American lawyers, frigid Jewish women and wimpy Jewish men, various social groups stigmatized as homosexual or effeminate, and Soviet autocrats. Davies adopts a socio-historical approach, attempting to explain the raison d’être for each joke cycle—which he suggests be considered as a “social fact” in the Durkheimian sense. He draws upon an interesting variety of “outside evidence," from historical, literary, and artistic sources to relevant findings in empirical social scientific studies from numerous countries. The book provides important examples of how popular jokes, as seemingly insignificant discursive practices, can often be indicators or—as in the case of Soviet jokes—sometimes precursors of significant cultural and historical phenomena and transformations. ItemBook review: The education of women and the vices of men: two Qajar tracts(2014) Abedinifard, MostafaThe translators of The Education of Women and The Vices of Men render into English, for the first time in their entirety, two important yet understudied Qajar tracts on men and women: Ta’dib al-Nesvān and Ma’āyeb al-Rejāl. The texts had been neglected for around a century before an edition of the latter and two editions of the former appeared outside Iran in 1992.1 The texts are juxtaposed in one Persian edition and in the translation under discussion here, which the translators justify by the fact that The Vices of Men is a critical response to The Education of Women. ItemBook review: The rhetoric of racist humour: US, UK, and global race joking(2013) Abedinifard, MostafaThe article reviews the book "The Rhetoric of Racist Humour: US, UK and Global Race Joking" by Simon Weaver. ItemCritical reflections on Ghoreishian’s ‘Gender and Sexual Organs'(2013) Abedinifard, MostafaThis paper is a critical response to Ana Ghoreishian’s essay “Gender and Sexual Organs: Iraj Mirza’s ‘Arif Namah and Hajviyat [plural of hajv, i.e., invective],” and focuses on the gender politics of Iraj Mirza’s most celebrated work, i.e., Aref Nameh. I welcome Ghoreishian’s insight that the critical value of Iraj Mirza’s sexual hajv (i.e., invective satire) should not be overshadowed by moralistic judgements about it. However, I challenge the picture she presents of Aref Nameh’s policy vis-à-vis gender. With this general theme in mind, and to rectify the above picture, I discuss three subjects: the phallocentric language in Aref Nameh, its attitude towards homoeroticism, and its treatment of hejab. First, I argue that while Aref Nameh’s sexual hajv can, as Ghoreishian shows, serve subversive functions in certain socio-political contexts, the poem’s phallocentrism renders it as obviously conservative in regard to gender. In the next part, while taking issue with Ghoreishian’s representation of Aref Nameh as a peril for heteronormativity, I provide further socio-historical context for the poem to suggest that, having been written at a critical juncture in the history of the transformations in Iranian society’s gender order, Aref Nameh was arguably constructed as a pro-modernity narrative that tends to foster the abjection of homoerotic acts and identities. Finally, upon contemplating Aref Nameh’s equating women’s unveiling with emancipation—as mirrored and endorsed in Ghoreishian’s article—my paper shows how the poem reveals significant traces of complicity with its contemporary modern discourse towards women’s veil. This discourse, that considered the heterosocialization of the public space as a sine qua non to Iranian modernity, encouraged the literal unveiling of women while simultaneously subjecting them to a surrogate nexus of internal veils. ItemGraphic memories: dialogues with self and other in Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Persepolis 2(2015) Abedinifard, MostafaBorn a decade prior to the Islamic Revolution, Marjane Satrapi grew up in the midst of turmoil. Her critically acclaimed graphic memoir Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, which spans the years immediately before and after the Revolution, and its sequel, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, have found an abundant readership around the world. As Satrapi indicates in her introduction to the first volume, in creating this narrative of her life, she hoped to provide non-Iranians, particularly those in the West, with a more accurate perspective on Iran. Implicit in this aim is a distinction between the Iranian Self and the Western Other, with the latter constituting Satrapi’s major implied audience. While the didactic aspects of the two Persepolis volumes cannot be denied, another, perhaps less appreciated, aspect of Satrapi’s work resides in its critical dialogue with Iranian culture. Satrapi’s assertion at the end of her introduction to Persepolis—“One can forgive but one should never forget”—applies as much to Iranians as to Western readers and reflects her attention to the Self as the other important implied audience for the text. Indeed, as Amy Malek notes, many Iranian readers have praised Satrapi’s work “for preserving the communal memory of a generation." In narrating her own memories, Satrapi critically intervenes in the culture and politics of censorship and compulsory veiling under the post-revolutionary Islamic regime and touches upon the important psychological consequences of such tactics of repression. ItemHegemonic masculinity and the stigma of failed embodiments: gender and bodily non-normativity in Sadeq Hedayat’s ‘Ābjī Khānum' and 'Dāvūd the Hunchback'(2013) Abedinifard, MostafaDespite previous references to the themes of disability and bodily nonnormativity in Sadeq Hedayat’s fiction, it has yet to be extensively re-read from this viewpoint. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, and particularly by employing thoughts and concepts from the developing areas of critical masculinity studies and disability studies, I read two understudied short stories by Hedayat: “Abji Khanom” and “Davood the Hunchback.” Both stories foreground the crucial intersection of gender and bodily nonnormativity as manifested in the social embodiments of the stories’ titular characters. While also intending the essay to serve as a very brief introduction to the above critical areas, I seek to answer the following questions about the stories: What has excluded the main characters from meaningful social interactions in their societies? What is the significance of Hedayat’s foregrounding the junction of gender and bodily nonnormativity in both stories? What might have caused each character’s highly pessimistic view toward his or her embodiment? I argue that the nonnormative bodies of both characters—whose societies legitimize a certain hierarchy of bodies—have afflicted them with stigmatized and hence socially devalued embodiments that render as liable both characters’ gender performances. This has brought about the characters’ social exclusion. Also, despite their difference in sex, both characters appear to be victims of similar hegemonic masculine ideals in their patriarchal ableist societies, which have internalized in our characters a pessimistic personal-tragedy view toward disability and bodily nonnormativity. ItemHumour and gender hegemony: the panoptical role of ridicule vis-à-vis gender(2015) Abedinifard, MostafaMy dissertation addressed the policing role of ridicule, as a form of humor, in relation to gender norms. Using cultural studies methods and drawing on theories in humor studies and gender—particularly masculinities—studies, I examined various forms and instances of mainstream gender humor from both Iranian and US cultures; I argued that such humor reflects and, through ridicule’s punitive role, systematically reinforces hegemonic notions of gender in a society. I concluded that the role of ridicule in the construction of gender demands theoretical and practical attention in studies of gender relations. ItemJokes and their relation to gender orders(2012) Abedinifard, MostafaAn interesting and promising way of approaching the understanding of societies is to investigate their folklores and popular cultures, an aspect of which is humor. Humor has attracted the attention of many contemporary scholars from various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. However, humor’s seriousness has long been under debate. ItemLaughter and ridicule: towards a social critique of humour by Michael Billig(2012) Abedinifard, MostafaTo review a book seven years after its publication is unconventional yet may become necessary, particularly when a good book has received questionable reviews. This is the case with Michael Billig’s Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a Social Critique of Humour. This review therefore involves critique of some earlier reviews of Billig’s book, in addition to highlighting some underappreciated aspects of that polemic, which I regard as especially promising for the comparative study of humour across cultures. ItemNihilism in Khayyámic rubáis(2010) Abedinifard, MostafaOne philosophical theme often attributed to Khayyámic rubáis is nihilism, which unfortunately has not been examined in detail and according to a firm theoretical basis. This paper probes into the theme in two famous Persian collections of such rubáis: Sadeq Hedayat’s edition of Taraneh-haye Khayyám as well as Forughi and Ghani’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. For this purpose, the paper consists of an introduction as well as two main parts and a conclusion. In the introduction, the necessity of holding the theory of Khayyámic rubáis–that is, a school of rubái-composing after Omar Khayyam and not the Rubáiyát of Khayyam–is explained. In the first part of the paper, which is entirely theoretical, based on Donald Crosby’s classification of nihilisms in his book, The Specter of the Absurd, two relating types of nihilism along with some common arguments for nihilism are explicated. In the second practical part, the aforementioned definitions and assumptions are applied to the rubáis under discussion. ItemOf masculinities, men, and mockery in the “Get a Mac” campaign: gendered derision as a rhetorical tool(2016) Abedinifard, MostafaIn the cultural and commercial genre of advertising, brands signify powerful cultural ideas that do not merely publicize products but, more importantly, speak to familiar cultural icons, ideals, and values to construct a brand identity that can ultimately result in profits for the company behind the brand. In light of current concepts and theories in critical masculinity studies and critical humor studies, this article examines a renowned twenty-first-century US advertising campaign, Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign, as a popular culture text that deploys ridicule to capitalize on subtle gendered relations. The campaign, featuring men as lead characters, taps into the contemporary Anglo-American gender order - particularly the notion of hegemonic masculinity - to reinforce a positive brand image. In doing so, I argue, the campaign takes much of its primary force from the punitive use of ridicule within a patriarchal economy of power, in which hegemonic notions of gender are exalted at the expense of non-hegemonic gender performances. As such, the campaign is informed by, and helps to inform, a subtle, hierarchal ideology of gender. In conclusion, this article briefly debates the implications of the main argument for further, related research, while also tackling the ensuing question of whether commercial advertising can ever be expected to resist hegemony effectively. ItemRidicule, gender hegemony, and the disciplinary function of mainstream gender humour(2016) Abedinifard, MostafaThis paper foregrounds the disciplinary power of ridicule, as a form or aspect of humour, vis-à-vis gender norms. While much theoretical and empirical research in gender studies recognizes the punitive function of gendered humour and/or ridicule, this function is given no theoretical significance. To resolve this tension, I integrate social psychologist Michael Billig's theory of ridicule as a universal reinforcer of the social order, along with the notion of gender order (as a particular type of social order) as outlined in masculinities theorist Raewyn Connell's gender hierarchy model. I contend that as a form of mainstream gender humour, ridicule serves as a tool for policing the gender order and creating self-regulating gendered subjects. The argument enables a rereading of mainstream gender humour, especially when it deploys ridicule to target non-hegemonic gendered subjectivities, practices, and performances. Such apparently banal humour, as I illustrate with examples of contemporary Anglo-American mainstream gender humour, speaks to and protects the fundamental elements of the gender order of the society and culture in which the humour circulates. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the implications of the main argument for pro-gender democracy research and activism. ItemThe vices of men and the necessity of studying men and masculinities in Iranian women’s studies(2015) Abedinifard, MostafaAlong with studying women and femininities, Iranian women’s studies, in order to advance its goals more effectively, needs to consider seriously questions of men and masculinities and of sexual orientation. As inherently related concepts, masculinity and femininity can be understood thoroughly only reciprocally. Likewise, gender and sexuality have inevitable interrelations. In fact, in heteronormative societies, hegemonic masculinity is constructed negatively through repudiating femininity and marginalized and subordinated—particularly homosexual— masculinities. Furthermore, on a practical level, achieving gender-democratic societies depends upon the willingness of many men and boys to perform (more) gender-democratic masculinities. Therefore, as long as men and boys remain unenlightened on the detriments of the male privilege and the benefits of gender democracy for themselves as well as for the others with whom they interact, imagining a society devoid of gender hierarchy would be difficult. Men, masculinities, and sexual orientation are essential study subjects in the emergent but increasingly growing field of masculinities studies. The field is sympathetic to feminist theory and aspires to achieve the democratization of gender relations, particularly through reaching men and boys. Accordingly, Iranian women’s studies must embrace masculinities studies. The paper contains four sections. First, while paying homage to Bibi Khanom Astarabadi’s Ma’ayeb al-Rejal (The Vices of Men) as the archetype of Iranian masculinities studies, the text is presented as a familiar stranger for contemporary Iranian women’s studies in that it underlines women’s issues and yet evokes (and represses) men’s same-sex relations. This introduces the central thesis. The second section introduces masculinities studies, particularly emphasizing its imbrications with feminism and its capacity for complementing feminist theory and activism. The third section constitutes a list of potential research topics in the newly emerging field of Iranian masculinities studies along with detailed footnotes which provide an annotated bibliography to the field. The final section introduces the major sources for those interested in pursuing studies of men and masculinities.