BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Date of Submission



Aliya Iqbal Naqvi, Visiting Faculty, Department of Social Sciences


Seher Ali Shah, Lecturer, Department of Social Sciences

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


Recent scholarship has shown that Perso-Islamic epics have been an integral part of world literature and retold in multiple mediums and in many cultural contexts throughout the Islamic world for more than a millennium. The heroic stories, figures, tropes, symbols, and modes of Perso-Islamic epic texts live on in local South Asian culture today through Urdu literature and even popular media. Younger generations are familiar with names such as Majnun and Rustam, and even what they represent; yet most know little of their origins or the heritage of the Perso-Islamic literary tradition. This research project had an experimental design, with the aim of studying the responses of urban, educated Pakistani youth (Generation Z) to Perso-Islamic epic literature. The paper also explores ways in which this literary tradition could be made more accessible and approachable to younger audiences. Selections from the following epic texts were used: the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the Panj Ganj of Nizami, and the older One Thousand and One Nights. Urban university students were recruited for focus groups, in which they were exposed to these texts in different forms, and their reactions and discussions were recorded and analyzed. The findings are complex and varied. Results show that the visual medium is most preferred in the current digital age. Furthermore, discussions around gender roles, romance, love, and lessons or morals-of-the-story, were often contentious but also helpful in getting participants to engage with the material.



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