'Reading Lolita in Tehran' author to speak at Binghamton University


BINGHAMTON, NY – Binghamton University celebrates 50 years of awarding doctorates – the highest degree a person can attain and thus a marker of the most distinguished universities. In celebration of this anniversary, Azar Nafisi, best known as the author of the international bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, will speak on campus at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, in the Anderson Center Chamber Hall. The talk is free and open to the public.

Currently a visiting professor and the executive director of Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., she is a professor of aesthetics, culture and literature, and teaches courses on the relation between culture and politics. 

Reading Lolita is Nafisi’s account of her experiences conducting classes in her home in Iran for women students based on the premise that everyone has a right to an education – even women hidden under mandatory veils. These classes form an agenda for a new human rights curriculum.

Reading Lolita in Tehran, which spent over 117 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, is an incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny. It has been translated into 32 languages and won diverse literary awards, including the 2004 Non-fiction Book of the Year Award from Booksense, the Frederic W. Ness Book Award, and the 2004 Latifeh Yarsheter Book Award, an achievement award from the American Immigration Law Foundation.

She has lectured and written extensively in English and Persian on the political implications of literature and culture, as well as the human rights of the Iranian women and girls and the important role they play in the process of change for pluralism and an open society in Iran.

She has been consulted on issues related to Iran and human rights by policy makers and various human rights organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere. She is also involved in the promotion of literacy and of reading books across cultural boundaries and experiences.

Nafisi held a fellowship at Oxford University, teaching a series of lectures on culture and the important role of Western literature and culture in Iran after the revolution in 1979. She also taught at the University of Tehran – from which she was expelled in 1981 for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil – the Free Islamic University and Allameh Tabatabai before her return to the United States in 1997 – earning national respect and international recognition for advocating on behalf of Iran’s intellectuals, youth and especially young women.

Nafisi’s latest book, The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books, celebrates the power of literature in a democratic society. Praised as the memoir in books that does for America what Reading Lolita did for Iran, this passionate book illustrates the importance of fiction, and especially of active reading, to change people’s lives. 

For more information, visit https://www.binghamton.edu/alumni/events-chapters/homecoming/2015-schedule.html or email gsfin@binghamton.edu.

Last Updated: 9/17/13