SOAS University of London

London Middle East Institute

Obscene and Sacred Dimensions of Medieval Persian Poetry: Sa'di's Literary Pornography as "Counter-Text" to Mystical Lyric

IMG - Domenico Ingenito Book
Domenico Ingenito (UCLA)

Date: 31 March 2021Time: 4:00 PM

Finishes: 31 March 2021Time: 5:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar



In this, the second in our LGBTQ Iran series, Domenico Ingenito sheds light on lesser-known aspects of Classical Persian literature.  

Pornographic depictions of sexual passion abound in the literary tradition of the medieval Persian world. Often revolving around the explicit portrayals of same-sex desire, these texts challenge the expressive boundaries of poetic language in a variety of surprisingly playful, alluring, and occasionally disturbing ways. This talk, drawing upon the third chapter of Domenico Ingenito’s recently published book, Beholding Beauty: Saʿdi of Shiraz and the Aesthetics of Desire in Medieval Persian Poetry (Brill, 2020), focuses on the uncharted territory of Saʿdi’s obscene corpus.  

Following the intuitions developed in other critical traditions, Ingenito approaches Saʿdi’s pornographic texts from the perspective of their connection with idealized representations of love (especially in the lyric genre know as ghazal) as well as the poet’s spiritual quest for divine beauty through the perusal of the visible world. By comparing the lowest and the highest registers of Saʿdi’s poetry, this talk will show how medieval Persian authors lyrically enacted the relationship between the human body, the senses, and the supernal realm through a variety of literary perspectives and aesthetic ideals.

Event Recording

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Obscene and Sacred Dimensions of Medieval Persian Poetry

About the speaker

Domenico Ingenito is Assistant Professor of Persian literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Director of the Program on Central Asia. His research interests center on medieval Persian poetry, visual culture of Iran and Central Asia, gender and translations studies, and manuscript culture. His most recent articles are: "Hafez’s ‘Shirāzi Turk’: A Geopoetical Approach (Iranian Studies)" and “‘A Marvelous Painting’: the Erotic Dimension of Sa‘di’s Praise Poetry” (Journal of Persianate Studies). His most recent book is Beholding Beauty: Saʿdi of Shiraz and the Aesthetics of Desire in Medieval Persian Poetry (Brill, 2020).


This webinar will take place online via Zoom. Click here to register

* The webinar will also be live-streamed on our Facebook page for those that are unable to participate via Zoom.

Moderator: Roya Arab (Associate Member, SOAS Middle East Institute).

Organiser: SOAS Middle East Institute

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