Author Talk: David Chaffetz, Three Asian Divas – Women, Art and Culture in Shiraz, Delhi and Yangzhou.

Date: 08/30/2020
Time: 4:00 pm-5:00 pm

The diva is a nearly universal phenomenon. Wherever poetry, music and mime have been practised with virtuosity, great women performers always take center stage. Traditional Asian divas are, however, less well known and understood among English language readers than the great divas of Mozart and Puccini. Whether from Shiraz at the court of the Injuids, from Delhi during the twilight of the Moghuls, or from Yangzhou under the last Ming emperors, these Asian divas constitute the first identifiably modern women. Though practicing classical and tradition-bound arts, they were economically independent, and were free to give or withhold love. Indeed, in many ways, they paved the way for the emergence of the modern woman in Asian societies.
The diva has left her own legacy across the world. Her message, several centuries old and composed in a learned language, resounds as powerfully today as when first performed, while her art itself shines out far beyond the private salons of the literati, reaching round the world, from the still lively productions of Chinese and Western opera houses to the vibrancy of cinema screens in Bombay and Shanghai.

David Chaffetz read Persian, Turkish, and Arabic at Harvard University under Wheeler Thackston, Anne-Marie Schimmel, and Stuart Cary Welch. He worked for the Encyclopedia Iranica under Ehsan Yarshater. In addition to Three Asian Divas – Women, Art and Culture in Shiraz, Delhi and Yangzhou, Chaffetz wrote A Journey through Afghanistan. He has traveled extensively in India, Central Asia, and China. This is the first in our series of virtual author talks this fall. Please register in advance, and we will send you a link to the Zoom room.


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