Last night I attended a lecture with my daughter. It was part of the Omnibus Lecture Series at IPFW, where she goes to school. She could earn extra credit for attending and since she wanted company, I went along. The speaker was Azar Nafisi, the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran. I was not particularly excited because I hadn't read the book, and am feeling overdosed on politics .
It was excellent. It was not overtly political. It was about literature, and the power of books, and having the kind of respect for other cultures that leads us to say, "Wait. What you are doing is wrong," when we see evils like slavery and the beheading of women. She argues that attitudes that in the environment of political correctness pass for respect are really condecension, because societies are seen as so inferior that they can't help what they're doing.
She talked about the trivializing of news in our society that puts baby Suri at the same level of new coverage importance as suicide bombings and about the oversimplification of much of the information we receive, such as calling such a large part of the Middle East and Eastern Europe "The Muslim World." (Which, as she pointed out, plays into the hands of the militant Islamists who want that to be the case.)
She talked about Jane Austen, but I'll let Bethany tell you about that.
If you have the opportunity to hear Dr. Nafisi, go. She mixed humor with talk of literature and stories about life during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. It was entertaining and informative.
Now I need to read the book.