Award-Winning Author to Open Atkinson Lecture Series

Azar NafisiProfessor Azar Nafisi, author of the national bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, will deliver the fall Atkinson Lecture at Willamette University Tuesday, Nov. 15, in Smith Auditorium at 8 p.m.

Tickets for students, faculty and staff will be available Oct. 25 beginning at 8 a.m. at the Information Desk in University Center. The first ticket is free with a Willamette ID; a second ticket may be purchased for $10. There is a two-ticket per person limit. Alumni and the general public may purchase available tickets beginning Nov. 7 for $10 per ticket also at University Center.

Reading Lolita in Tehran is an incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny. To date, the book has spent more than 70 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated in 32 languages. The book has also 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, as well as being a finalist for the 2004 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Memoir.

Nafisi is currently a visiting professor and the director of the SAIS Dialogue Project at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, where she is a professor of aesthetics, culture, and literature, and teaches courses on the relation between culture and politics.

Nafisi held a fellowship at Oxford University, teaching and conducting a series of lectures on culture and the important role of Western literature and culture in Iran after the revolution in 1979. She taught at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University, and Allameh Tabatabai before her return to the United States in 1997. She was expelled from the University of Tehran for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil in 1981 and did not resume teaching until 1987.

She has conducted workshops in Iran for women students on the relationship between culture and human rights. 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. The professor has served as a consultant on issues related to Iran and human rights both by the policy makers and various human rights organizations in the US and elsewhere.

Nafisi has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Her cover story, "The Veiled Threat: The Iranian Revolution's Woman Problem" published in The New Republic (February 22, 1999) has been reprinted into several languages. She is the author of Anti-Terra: A Critical Study of Vladimir Nabokov's Novels. She is currently working on two books, one tentatively titled The Republic of the Imagination, which is about the power of literature to liberate minds and peoples, and the other, The Pursuit of Happiness, about culture, history, and loss. She lives in Washington, D.C.