Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Comparative Literature


Professor Nandi Bhatia



Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Muslims in America have continued to remain the subject of cultural and political debates. In their artistic endeavours, Muslim artists have tried to rectify the negative and mediated images attributed to Islam, Muslims, and their cultures. In this dissertation, I look at Iranian works from the diaspora that not only represent Iranian culture and attempt to raise public awareness in America, but also extensively wade into humor as their linking theme. It is humor embedded in socio-cultural and political implications along with cultural representations that constitute my analysis in this dissertation.

I have benefitted from a wide range of textual materials and visual sources—electronic libraries, media coverages, and Internet talks and interviews—to investigate the rhetoric of Firoozeh Dumas’s selected memoirs entitled Funny in Farsi (2003) and Laughing without an Accent (2005), the stand-up comedian Maz Jobranis’ Axis of Evil (2005-2007), and Ramin Niami’s romantic comedy film entitled Shirin in Love (2014).

Critical voices of the Iranian diaspora scholars along with Mikhail Bakhtin’s notions of the carnivalesque, heteroglossia and dialogism, and Linda Hutcheon’s concepts of irony and parody inform the theoretical framework of my study. I suggest that the artworks function as a site where social, cultural, political, and linguistic practices are re-negotiated, re-defined, and re-presented to the reading public and/or audiences.

Keywords: Humor, the rhetoric, the Iranian diaspora, the carnivalesque, heteroglossia, dialogism, irony, parody, cultural representations