Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



Art History

First Advisor

Ellen Handy

Second Advisor

Abby Kornfeld

Third Advisor

Craig Houser


Shirin Neshat, Nostalgia, Revolution, Photography, Home


Using the framework of nostalgia defined by Svetlana Boym in The Future of Nostalgia, this thesis revisited the series “Women of Allah” and “The Book of Kings,” that Shirin Neshat created twenty years apart. It argues that the photographs of both series became the terrain through which Neshat narrates the relationship between her past, present, and future. She constructs her longing for home in “Women of Allah'' and she visualizes her homecoming in “The Book of Kings.” The central point to this research is Neshat’s personal relationship to an event that caused her a traumatic experience, the experience that interrupted her sense of identity due to the drastic social and political changes in a place she knew as home. Neshat’s romance with the past shaped her visual language in “Women of Allah” as she confronted the past state of home with its current state using portrait photography and poetry. Twenty years later, another political event in Iran reminded her of the condition of the exilic life and her trauma. This time, she restores the past when visualizing a potential future for her country, the condition under which she can see her return.



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