Azar Nafisi, award-winning author of the acclaimed memoir “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” will deliver this year’s Finzi-Contini Lecture at the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street, on February 7 at 4:30 p.m.
Her talk, “The Republic of the Imagination,” examines literature’s power to liberate minds and a nation’s spirit. The event is free and open to the public.
“Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Book” portrays the Islamic revolution in Iran and its harrowing effects on this university professor and her students. Described as an incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny, the book has spent more than 117 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list, has been translated in 32 languages and has won diverse literary awards, including the 2004 Non-fiction Book of the Year Award from Booksense, the Frederic W. Ness Book Award, the 2004 Latifeh Yarsheter Book Award, an achievement award from the American Immigration Law Foundation and the 2006 Persian Golden Lioness Award for literature.
A professor of aesthetics, culture and literature at Johns Hopkins University, Nafisi also directs the Dialogue Project at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. She has held a fellowship at Oxford University and taught at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University and Allameh Tabatabai. Nafisi has earned international respect for advocating on behalf of Iran’s intellectual youth, especially young women.
Nafisi is also the author of “Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov’s Novels” as well as a children’s book, “BiBi and the Green Voice.” She has contributed new introductions to the Modern Library Classics edition of Tolstoy’s “Hadji Murad” and to Iraj Pezeshkzad’s “My Uncle Napoleon,” and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
The Finzi-Contini Lectureship honors Bianca Finzi-Contini, a scholar of European literature and a native of Ferrara who left fascist Italy to establish herself in the United States. The lectureship was founded by her sons, the Honorable Guido Calabresi, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Dr. Paul Calabresi. The distinguished list of past Finzi-Contini lecturers includes Umberto Eco, René Girard, Tzvetan Todorov, Charles Rosen, A. S. Byatt, Simon Schama, Orhan Pamuk and W. S. Merwin. The lectures are devoted to any aspect of European or comparative literature and culture.