Though she has written for publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, Azar Nafisi is most known for her best-selling novel, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (Random House). In it, she demonstrates what the best teachers do when faced with adversity: They continue to teach, even if it has to be outside of a classroom. In 1981, Nafisi was expelled from her position at the University of Tehran after refusing to wear a veil, a requirement she found oppressive and unnecessary.She began hosting underground discussion groups and workshops on American and English literature, in which she holds a Ph.D. Reading Lolita follows the intellectually transformative effects these gatherings had on the female students she invited to participate, though the works they studied were often banned, the photocopied papers shared between readers. Nafisi has gone on to speak publically on the relationship between politics, power, and culture, while continuing to stress the importance of how some literature can speak universally of the human experience. Currently a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University, she will also discuss her most recent memoir, Things I've Been Silent About, which covers her early childhood in a strained family, as well as her travels throughout the world.
Thu., Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 18, 11 a.m., 2009