Reading Lolita at St. Kate’s
In 2010–2011 at St. Catherine University, we were living “The Year of the Liberal Arts.” In honor of that designation, we had arranged for Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, to give a public lecture in April (before the academic year ended in May). That combination kick-off/culmination event would begin and end the transitory elevation of the liberal arts in one glorious celebratory day. It was going to be a big day. And because we are Midwestern and Catholic, serious purveyors of women’s education, we prepared ourselves for Nafisi’s arrival by conducting two community-wide book club events, one to read Reading Lolita and one to read Lolita. More than 30 people came to discuss Nafisi’s book, as I recall, a few armed with carefully researched condemnations of her collusion with Western economic and political interests.1 Only about 15 of us attended the second meeting, Nabokov in hand, to discuss this pillar of twentieth-century Western literature (number four on the Modern Library’s 100 best novels, the one topped by Ulysses). The group was comprised mainly of students, but it also included a few faculty and staff members.
KeywordsReading Mode Love Story Aesthetic Response Modern Library Lionel Trilling
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