Burning Visions: The Iranian New Wave and the Politics of the Image, 1962-1979

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Burning Visions: The Iranian New Wave and the Politics of the Image, 1962-1979

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This dissertation examines Iranian experimental and art cinema from 1962 through to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. By focusing on this period, I argue that it is necessary to re-evaluate the Iranian New Wave as a counter-cinema movement that sought to interrogate notions of collectivity. One of the New Wave’s primary strategies for re-thinking collectivity, I argue, was the remediation of older Iranian art forms such as poetry, miniature painting, and theater, as well as the then novel medium of television. Through an engagement with these diverse forms, the New Wave established itself as an alternative national project in opposition to the cinema of imperialism (Hollywood), the domestic commercial cinema known as film farsi, and the modernizing nationalism of the Pahlavi regime. My analysis begins with the feminist poetics of The House is Black (1962), a film that I argue projected a new form of social relations. This form is elaborated throughout this seventeen-year period by radical filmmakers who put forward a new cinema using strategies of estrangement in combination with archaic Iranian forms. The dissertation thus theorizes the Iranian New Wave as a missing chapter of the global movement of counter-cinema occurring throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In both the final chapter and the conclusion of the dissertation, I interrogate the widespread perception of an absolute rupture dividing the Iranian New Wave from the better-known post-revolutionary Iranian art cinema, characterized by the works of Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi. I demonstrate that many of the formal traits attributed to cinema in the post-revolutionary era can be traced further back and linked to the New Wave’s pre-occupation with collectivity and the production of art. In sum, the dissertation is both the first study focused exclusively on theorizing the Iranian New Wave, as well as a new historiography that calls for re-reading the sources and futures of Iranian art cinema.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.September 2015. Major: Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society. Advisor: Cesare Casarino. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 285 pages.

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Saljoughi, Sara. (2015). Burning Visions: The Iranian New Wave and the Politics of the Image, 1962-1979. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/191452.

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