An Education of the Senses: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Male Desire in Early Modern Isfahan

  • 754 Schermerhorn Extension, Columbia University

Kathryn Babayan, Associate Professor of History, Director of Armenian Studies Program, University of Michigan.

The talk will employ the poetic form of the shahrashub, literally the “city disturbance,” to visualize seventeenth Isfahan. Isfahan is both the city where the author, Aqa Mansur, composes his guidebook as well as the site through which he represents a masculine space for a lover-friend to learn about the urban rules and etiquette of love. Forlorn men are the audience invited to travel, observe and discover a cityscape of masculine sensual pleasures. Our guide simultaneously configures the rituals of urbane masculinity to fashion a spectatorship of refined male gazers, just as he creates Isfahan the city discursively. I will walk you through the travelogue to see how Aqa Mansur’s knowledge of sexuality, gender, and community are conceptualized and woven together to picture Isfahan. This event is co-sponsored by MESAAS and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.