An intercultural study the reception of J.K. Rowling's the Harry Potter book series in Iran
This study travels into the magical world of Harry Potter as both story and book series to explore its reception in Iran. The purpose of this study is to discover how the magical world of Harry Potter has broken down cultural boundaries and reinforced others, and has attracted many children and adults as readers in Iran, where it is read mostly through translated versions and where certain aspects of the story are censored or adapted for an Iranian audience. I will discuss how the Harry Potter series is read and received differently in Iran and North America by comparing critical responses, for example, to religion, magic, and technology in the series. By using the text-oriented branch of reader-response theory, which is supported by theorists such as Wolfgang Iser and Georges Poulet, I will explain how readers of the Harry Potter series leave their own world and engage in the world of the novel. Also, by applying the reader-centered school of reception theory, as argued by scholars such as Stanley Fish, I will discuss the role of the reader's personal life experiences and cultural background in the reading process. In order to better explore the influence of cultural communities on both readers and writers, this study will explain intercultural theories and the importance of cultural similarities and differences in both producing and interpreting a text. This study will also consider the cross-cultural factors that may affect the writing and reading processes. These factors include religious, social, literary, and historical issues which vary for readers from different countries. To discuss the intercultural reception of the series in Iran, I will analyze the Persian translations of the series as well as the important role of cultural norms and the issue of censorship in the process of translation in Iran. I am very interested in the intercultural aspects of the reception of the book series as someone who grew up in Iran and first read Harry Potter in translation there, before moving to Canada where I undertook graduate studies in comparative literature and continued to follow the series and its critical reception in English. The reception of the novel in Canada is similar to that of most Western countries and there are not enough cultural specificities to warrant a study of Canadian reception alone, except for its French translations as part of the reception in Quebec. However, as I will study further, the translations for French Canada are done in France, so I will compare translation strategies of French and Iranian translators. Contrary to Quebec, where there are currently no Quebecois translations of the Harry Potter series and where readers read translations by a French translator from Europe, in Iran readers have several translations of each volume to choose from. As a result of the issue of censorship in Iran, Persian translators of Harry Potter have to find the best possible method in order to transfer the Western series into Persian for an Islamic culture. This thesis discusses the specific challenges of translating from English to Persian, but I will also refer to celebrated theorists such as Jeremy Munday, Lawrence Venuti, Antoine Berman, and Friedrich Schleiermacher, who discuss different methods of translation, which enable French and Persian translators of the series to transfer both cultural and literal contexts in the most faithful way possible. I will compare the reception of the Harry Potter novels in the context of North American societies and Islamic Iranian society by discussing which aspects of the series are more closely studied by Western and Iranian critics and how these choices reflect different cultural norms, values, beliefs, and taboos concerning childhood and children's literature, especially in terms of gender relations and religion. As I will explain, the series has been condemned by extremist Christians in the West for prompting the dark arts and the occult. These negative critics claim that the series presents magic as fun and harmless, thus promoting sorcery and convincing children that they can use magic in order to reach their goals. Since magic is more a part of Iranian everyday culture, the series is not criticised for presenting magic in Iran, but it is marginally accused of being a Zionist plot aimed at destroying the morality of children. On the other hand, positive critics in both the West and Iran argue that the series promotes modern values and teaches morality by presenting the notions of love, sacrifice, friendship, family, and self discovery."--Résumé abrégé par UMI.