- Purchase/rental options available:
This article explores a corpus of literary works in verse and prose that deal with the city of Isfahan, the capital of the Safavid dynasty in seventeenth-century Iran. Following a brief overview of the formats and conceptions of city description in medieval Persian literature, the essay examines seventeenth-century topographical works as verbal expressions of emergent modes of urban experience in early modern Isfahan. Seen together, these works bespeak the formation of a novel arena of literary production—a social terrain nourished by the city and largely independent of courtly circles. The corpus reveals the ways in which seventeenth-century Isfahan became intertwined with the emergence of new expressions of subjectivity and new modes of fashioning the self. Markets, gardens, urban spaces, and coffeehouses were represented in various narratives integrating subjective experiences into the urban landscape.