Tag Archives: Azar Nafisi

I just met Azar Nafisi!!

Well, if having her sign her book Reading Lolita in Tehran counts as having met her. I read the book back in June, and was absolutely captivated, and kept it in the back of my mind to see her speak if it ever become remotely possible. And then I found out she was coming to Baylor and, even better, the lecture was free! Awesome.

She spoke about “The Republic of Imagination,” and how important it is to have a “space” in modern life that isn’t defined by politics or politicized religion or science, but defined by an open and curious inquiry into humanity, led by literature. She’s as excellent a speaker as she is a writer, and she had an audience of probably two hundred (they had to bring in about twice as many chairs as they originally had set up in order to fit everyone) absolutely enthralled for over an hour. I think she brought up some excellent points, especially regarding our tendency to conflate all predominantly Islamic countries as “The Muslim World,” when the countries that make up the “Muslim World” range from Morocco to Saudi Arabia to Turkey to Iran to Indonesia–all of which have individual histories and cultures that cannot be so easily reduced to “Islamic.” She suggested that defining all these countries purely by their current status as Muslim-regimed is similar to defining the United States by its two hundred years of slavery and segregation, and Europe by the Inquisition and Hitler. Now, I understand that there is a very real difference between Islam and Christianity, and she doesn’t address that (either in the lecture, or in the book), because she’s really a secular humanist, but her point about failing to take into account the thousands of years of history and literature of these countries because of what is, in Iran’s case at least, a twenty-five-year-old totalitarian dictatorship is well-taken.

In any case, she not only had thought-provoking things to say, but a very personable speaking presence–very humorous and witty. I want to be an academic like her. Except, not in academia. Have to figure that part out…

June Reading/Watching Recap

After the jump, reactions to Thumbsucker, Elizabethtown, Winchester ’73, Junebug, A History of Violence, Smiles of a Summer Night, Reading Lolita in Tehran, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and more!

Read more….

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