Bestselling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran to present public lecture

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The University of Tulsa’s 2008-09 Presidential Lecture Series will kick off with author Azar Nafisi, whose best-selling work electrified readers with a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students.

Nafisi will present her talk, entitles “The Republic of the Imagination,” at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 15 in the Allen Chapman Activity Center at TU. The event is free and open to the public.

Her book, “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books,” has been hailed as a great introduction to modern Iran. Her work has celebrated the democratizing force of literature, and her love of Western literature and culture caused her to be expelled from the University of Tehran for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil.

In the book, Nafisi offers a portrait of her country set against the backdrop of her own love for literature and her efforts to instill that passion in a small group of female students. The book spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller. “Reading Lolita in Tehran” has been translated into 32 languages and has won six literary awards since it was published in 2003.

Nafisi is a visiting professor and the director of the Dialogue Project at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., where she teaches aesthetics, culture, and literature. Nafisi held a fellowship at Oxford University, teaching the important role of Western literature and culture in Iran.

Before leaving for America in 1997, Nafisi previously had taught literature at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University, and Allameh Tabatabai. She is now a visiting professor and the director of the Dialogue Project at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., where she teaches aesthetics, culture, and literature.

Nafisi has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New Republic, and she has appeared on countless radio and television programs. She is the author of "Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov’s Novels," "The Veiled Threat: The Iranian Revolution’s Woman Problem" and the children’s book, "BiBi and the Green Voice."

In addition to her international resume, Nafisi has some Oklahoma roots. She earned three degrees from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.: a bachelor of arts in English literature and philosophy, a master of arts degree in English literature, and a doctoral of philosophy in English and American literature.

The lecture series is presented by the Darcy O’Brien Endowed Chair, which was established to honor the memory of the late TU professor. A Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, scholar and critic, O’Brien was a member of the TU English faculty from 1978 until 1996. O’Brien died in 1998 at the age of 58, and the Darcy O’Brien Endowed Chair was established in 2001.