Comparative literature in Iran: Origin and development
This paper seeks to trace the historical tracks of comparative literature in modern Iran. I am following the early footsteps of comparative literature of Iran through the life of Fatemeh Sayyah (1902-1947), who is credited to be the founder of the discipline of Comparative literature in Iran, which started off as discipline with the introduction of a literary program for the first time at Tehran University in 1938. The very first academic comparative work with respect to Persian literature was done by an Indian scholar Umar Bin Mohammad Daudpota almost 11 years before its introduction in Iranian university curriculum, in 1927 at Cambridge University, with the title of ‘The effect of Arabic poetry on Persian poetry’. As a discipline, throughout its journey that comparative literature encountered in Iran as far as its development is concerned has had to overcome obstacles in its way. Many a time the program faced its closures and reopening. The process of literary interaction with French literature, its impact on Iranian literature and the outcome of this process, which I believe is more out of a protest than anything else, though it was leveraged to some extent by Pahlavi dynasty in a bid to protect its claims for monarchy. The extensive “Persianization” in the name of Nationalization and the reception of this idea in literature of the times is evident. Due to some factors (major being the none-existence of some concrete curriculum for Iranian universities) the comparative literature program faces problems in its foundation as a discipline in Iran. Steps are being taken in this regard by academicians engaged in the field.