Burying the Beloved: Marriage, Realism, and Reform in Modern Iran

Publication Year


Burying the Beloved traces the relationship between the law and literature in Iran to reveal the profound ambiguities at the heart of Iranian ideas of modernity regarding women's rights and social status. The book reveals how novels mediate legal reforms and examines how authors have used realism to challenge and re-imagine notions of "the real." It examines seminal works that foreground acute anxieties about female subjectivity in an Iran negotiating its modernity from the Constitutional Revolution of 1905 up to and beyond the Islamic Revolution of 1979.   By focusing on marriage as the central metaphor through which both law and fiction read gender, Motlagh critically engages and highlights the difficulties that arise as gender norms and laws change over time. She examines the recurrent foregrounding of marriage at five critical periods of legal reform, documenting how texts were understood both at first publication and as their importance changed over time.   "Motlagh frees Iranian writers from a presumed level of conscious and willful subjectivity which has far too frequently made them synonymous with social philosopher and intellectual and illuminates the fascinating interconnections between legal discourse and modern literary representations of marriage. Masterfully placed within the currents of Persian literary and cultural studies." —Nasrin Rahimieh, University of California, Irvine

"Burying the Beloved brings a timely and distinct voice to current debates on marriage and modernity in Iran. Its new insights and radical perspective offer valuable contributions to the existing literature and will be welcomed by readers interested in gender questions in contemporary Iran." —Ali Gheissari, University of San Diego   About the author Amy Motlagh (Ph.D. ’09) is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at The American University in Cairo.
200 pages
Stanford University Press
ISSN Number
9780804775892, 9780804778183