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Iranian author Azar Nafisi presents the 25th Bucksbaum lecture

Azar Nafisi, a best-selling author and professor gave the 25th Bucksbaum Lecture on the importance of the imagination and literature at the Knapp Center last Wednesday night.

Nafisi is a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, where she is also director of the Cultural Conversations at the Foreign Policy Institute.

She is well-known for her book “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books,” which was on The New York Times best-seller list for over 117 weeks.

During the speech, Nafisi made comments that drew laughs, applause, murmurs and gasps from the crowd. She asked many rhetorical questions, forcing audience members to examine themselves and their motives.

“How many of us would risk going to hell, but doing the right thing?” Nafisi asked at the end of her lecture.

Nafisi also encouraged the audience to “accept diversity and variety, so then we can enter into a critical dialogue,” to enable the discussion of the importance of knowledge and curiosity.

“[The point that stuck with me the most is] the need for intellectual disclosure,” said Linda Krypel, professor of pharmacy practice at Drake. “To speak out and debate something doesn’t mean you’re anti-American. I think it’s crucial.”

Around 1,400 students, professors and community members were in attendance.

Nafisi did have much to say and discuss, as her lecture lasted for over an hour, leaving time for questions from the audience, as well as a book signing afterwards.

Nafisi’s lecture was the 15th anniversary of the Martin Bucksbaum Lectureship Series, named after the late Martin Bucksbaum, chairman and CEO of General Growth Corporation.

The next Bucksbaum lecture will take place in April 2011.

Photo courtesy of Drake University

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