Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Persepolis, Satrapi, The Veil

Things have just sort of fortuitously happened that we read Marjane Satrapi’s “The Veil” in my class this summer. I happen to have a female student from Saudi Arabia, and it has been really interesting to get her own perspective on issues in the Middle East that I remain uninformed of or that I have been taught to think of a certain way. One of these issues is the veil.

Satrapi is the graphic novelist whose biographical work, Persepolis, was recently turned into a film and nominated for an academy award. She is of Iranian heritage, so it has been interesting to read about her responses and reaction to the Iranian Revolution from a couple decades ago and then compare them from what I have been absorbing from today’s events in Iran.

Below is a trailer of the film. I recently watched it on Netflix, and I have to admit it is quite the gem. I really think her animation is great, and the story itself is very interesting. I like how I could identify with her so much, even though I didn’t actually experience what she did.

We read this chapter of Satrapi’s Persepolis that is in our textbook, Seeing and Writing. I have been getting students to think about visual culture this semester, and one of the units is on gender. One of the things that I think about the veil is that it so clearly marks the gender of the woman. It is the woman that wears the veil. So, it made sense to me to include this on the course schedule. At the time, I had no idea that I was going to have a Saudi Arabian female in my class, but I am so happy I did because she able to enliven our discussion of the veil and gender issues from her own experiences. I have included some images for your consideration.

My Saudi Arabian student chose to write about this chapter. Her paper was really interesting. It was basically a response paper in which she talked about things she agreed and disagreed with in the chapter. I remember in class, she couldn’t understand why the children were so angry about having to wear the veil. I had to explain that one interpretation (at least the one that I was thinking of) was that it forced these children to lose their individuality. By all looking the same, they aren’t able to be unique, which can be a big deal to children. Granted this is my own interpretation, but it was about all I had to answer her.

I just purchased the book today at the bookstore because someone used it in a 1063, advanced writing class in the spring. I would like to start reading it this weekend on vacation as soon as I finish this other short-ish novel that I have been reading rather slowly this week.


Tara said...

Aren't these wonderful? The only "comic" book I've ever enjoyed!

Lexi said...

Oooh! I loved these, too. Have you seen the film adaptation yet?

Marli said...

I totally watched this film and thought of you! how apropos...

Lexi said...

Oops--I should read all the back posts before asking a question! Great post, though.