Ideology and resistance in Persian classical poetry : the case of Naser-e Khosrow

  • Salour Evaz Malayeri

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This research is an attempt to redefine the concepts of ideology and resistance for an Iranian context and analyse their reflections in the Divan of Nāser-e Khosrow (Ca. 1004-1076). Ideology in Persian studies has usually been treated as a belief system promoted by a group of people with political ambitions, and resistance as a conscious political protest organised to confront a political system. Such general definitions, however, have failed to give rise to an applicable methodology for analysing the relationship between the text and dominant power, mainly because the mutual impacts of ideology and resistance have rarely been considered.

Using the premises of the theory of ‘ideology critique’ and the method of ‘discourse analysis’, I define ideology as the totality of the undisputed and naturalised statements that justify a form of domination and hegemony. I also define resistance as discursive practices that disturb the symbolic order by challenging the common sense that has been established by the hegemonic discourse. To contextualise my study of ideology and resistance, I employ the concept of the political to analyse the construction of orthodoxy and political identity during the eleventh century Iran. I then examine the literary and theological themes of Nāser-e Khosrow’s Divan. I argue that though Nāser-e Khosrow stood against the Baghdad Caliphs and their Turkic allies in Khorasan and dedicated his life to promoting Ismailism as a new conception of truth, his poetry merged the emancipative aspects of Ismaili discourse with the deterministic statements of Persian literary tradition in ways that he ultimately failed to break away from the dominant epistemes of the time and reproduced the arbitrary and tyrannical structure of power.
Date of Award2 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorSaeed Talajooy (Supervisor)


  • Persian literature
  • Naser-e Khosrow
  • Ideology
  • Resistance
  • Discourse analysis
  • Counter-discourse
  • The Political
  • Shiism
  • Ismailism
  • Medieval literature
  • Determinism and free will
  • Political theology

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  • Full text embargoed until
  • 14th October 2022

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