Gender and Imagination: A Feminist Analysis of Shahrnush Parsipur’s Women without Men

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This chapter examines the use of the surrealist technique of automatic writing by Shahrnush Parsipur as a radical imagination that weaves aesthetic experimentation, Iranian women’s right issues, and resistance to the patriarchal state ideology together in the novella Women Without Men. Automatic writing, which seeks to make a direct connection between latent thought and manifest thinking by bypassing repression, provides Parsipur the perfect medium for: (a) articulating the fluid thematic design of her novella, wherein women’s bodies morph into unnatural and supernatural forms, and, (b) criticizing both western and state ideologies that perceive and situate Iranian women as a silent minority. She reconstitutes the traditional surrealist representations of women as disembodied entities (André Breton), presenting them as subversive, radical, and avant-garde agents of change instead, much like the French Surrealist artist, photographer, and writer Claude Cahun. It also examines the theoretical lenses of ecofeminism, necroresistance, and psychoanalysis, to conclude that Parsipur’s writing techniques move in multiple directions and are always connected to many lines of thinking, acting, imagining, and being.


Imagination and Art: Explorations in Contemporary Theory is volume 351 of the Value Inquiry Book Series.