Campus Advisories

GW classes canceled; administrative and academic offices closed on March 5

05:10am, Thursday, March 05, 2015

GW classes are canceled, administrative and academic offices are closed, and activities and events will not take place on Thursday, March 5 at all of our Washington metropolitan area campuses and locations because of inclement weather throughout the region.

When the university declares a change to its operating status, employees classified as Designated On-Site are required to report to and/or remain at work, employees classified as Essential are generally expected to telecommute, and employees classified as Non-Essential are not required to work unless directed to do so by a supervisor.

Visit CampusAdvisories.gwu.edu for information about changes to university services.

 

Azar Nafisi’s Thoughts After ‘Lolita in Tehran’

The award-winning author talks to aspiring GW writers about her new book.
Azar Nafisi
The Jenny McKean Moore Reading Series showcased professor and award-winning author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran” Azar Nafisi on Tuesday evening.
April 30, 2014

By Julyssa Lopez

There’s one Vladimir Nabokov quote Azar Nafisi always comes back to when she’s thinking about literature: “Governments come and go. Only the trace of genius remains.”

The professor and award-winning author of “Reading Lolita in Tehran” described books as the one thing that connects people from all walks of life. They start off as strangers whose names you don’t know, but they soon become intimate friends who elicit great emotions and feelings from a person, she said.

“Every time I talk about books, it’s a celebration of not just imagination, but a celebration of life. The whole idea of poetry, music, art and films—anything to do with ideas—is a resistance against the transience and tyranny of life,” she said.

Ms. Nafisi shared her profound passion for the written world with students at the George Washington University on Tuesday during the semester’s final lecture of the Jenny McKean Moore Reading Series, sponsored by the English department’s creative writing program. This semester, the series has brought literary heavyweights to campus, including George Pelecanos and John Banville.

Books offer a profound opportunity to open doors and imagine life not just as it is, but how it was and could be, Ms. Nafisi told students. They bring not just optimism, but a subversive way of thinking that allows readers to rebel against monotonous ways of thinking.

“The first thing a totalitarian mindset takes away from you is the past, and if you don’t know where you came from, you don’t know where you are,” she said.

She drew from the example of her home country, asking what the audience thought of when they heard the word “Iran.” Guests responded with images of dictatorship and a government-controlled state, which Ms. Nafisi countered by explaining the myriad faces of Iran and Islam that also include a love for peace. Society today often reduces culture to just one aspect, she said.

“The point is the acceptance of variety and not generalizing people out of existence, and that is what literature teaches you to reject. That is why literature is so revolutionary,” Ms. Nafisi explained.

Ms. Nafisi shared she recently became an American citizen, because the United States is a democratic country made up of immigrants. Democracy, however, presents its own challenge: It gives individuals a choice and ultimately makes them responsible for their decisions.

“If you don’t define yourself, it is our humanity that is at stake. The ordeal of freedom is very serious. Life in a democracy is far more difficult because you are responsible,” she said.

Following the discussion, Ms. Nafisi answered questions about her new book, which will examine imagination in a democracy. She also posed several questions to students about how they view society, the media and literature.

“This was our last reading of the season, and we’ve had some great people. It’s been a fabulous lineup thanks to luck and a few connections, and Ms. Nafisi was a great way to end the series,” said Lisa Page, acting director of creative writing at GW.