Where I Am--Between Two Worlds: The Graphic Khaterat Of Taj Al-Saltaneh And Marjane Satrapi
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentEnglish and Languages
ProgramDoctor of Philosophy
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"Where I Am--Between Two Worlds: The Graphic Khaterat of Taj Al-Saltaneh and Marjane Satrapi" examines the life writing of Taj Al-Saltaneh (1884-1936) and the life narrative of Marjan Satrapi (1969- ) entitled, The Complete Persepolis. The aim of this examination is to see how these narratives graphically depict the writers' adventures in becoming modern Iranian women, and how they serve as instruction for those individuals grappling with sociopolitical and cultural upheaval, fear, and feelings of unworthiness. This study finds Saltaneh's Crowning Anguish: Memoirs of a Persian Princess from the Harem to Modernity and Satrapi's The Complete Persepolis at the intersection of graphic narrative and khaterat, a Persian form of life narrative characterized by definitions of the self that are community-dependent and reliant on individual and collective memory. Graphic is used within this project to mean visually engaging, explicit, provocative, daring, and inscribed. Saltaneh pairs her narrative mission with her work as a struggling painter. Satrapi uses her black and white drawings to tell her complex story in a way that moves beyond the boundaries of written language. Both storytellers are so graphic in their telling that the metaphor of the trapeze artist is used to capture the adventurous and performative nature of their narratives and to describe the writers' movement between the poles of tradition and modernity and other points of negotiation for women. This dissertation examines how Iranian female authors have created a hybrid form of life narrative that helps us to contemplate the transitions between youth and adulthood, freedom and oppression, homeland and residence, alienation and romanticism, fact and fiction. This hybrid form also allows its writers to construct and deconstruct the self and engage the reader powerfully, imaginatively, and intimately. Finally, this work explores the ways that Saltaneh and Satrapi are akin to that well-known fabulist of 1,001 nights, Shahrzad, who told stories to preserve her life, establish her creative power, transform the excesses of patriarchy, and partner with male authority to engender a new way of living.