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Rethinking World Literature from Moby Dick to Missing Soluch

Vafa, Amirhossein (2015) Rethinking World Literature from Moby Dick to Missing Soluch. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis stems from interlocking sites of local and global inequalities that span from the public to cultural realms. Considering the US-Iranian relations, and America’s geopolitical presence in the Persian Gulf since the Cold War, my literary study concerns a world order of core-periphery divides that chart the global circulation of travelling texts. Within this process of establishing “national” and “world texts,” silenced are subordinate characters whose untold stories read against the grain of institutional World Literature. Towards an egalitarian cross-cultural exchange, therefore, I examine works of fiction and cinema across a century and two oceans: Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Esmail Fassih’s The Story of Javid, Mahmoud Dowlatabadi’s Missing Soluch, and Amir Naderi’s film The Runner. In contention with the widespread Eurocentric treatments of world literatures, and in recognition of radical efforts to reimagine the worldliness of American and Persian literatures respectively, I maintain that aesthetic properties are embedded in their local histories and formative geographies. Bridging two literary worlds, then, I introduce the Parsee Fedallah as a figure whose significant role has been subdued in Melville scholarship. To retrieve his unheard voice, or “proleptic narrative,” is to de-territorialize an American master-text, and to bring the character to his Persian literary and cinematic counterparts in a subversive practice of Comparative Literature. In effect, lived experiences of Fassih’s Javid (a Zoroastrian national trope) and Dowlatabadi’s Mergan (a marginalized rural woman) are “proleptic” articulations of Fedallah’s voice in Iranian fiction. In-between Melville’s outward “sea” and Fassih and Dowlatabadi’s inward “land” is an alternative space in which the border-crossing of fictional characters enable counter-hegemonic cartographies. In conclusion, by virtue of his creative conflict with Melville, Naderi’s Amiru points at the silver screen as a visual realm of new possibilities beyond the monopoly of an expansive World Literature.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Mr Amirhossein Vafa
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2015 13:33
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2015 13:33
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8165

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