The Podcast for Social Research, Episode 7: “Reading Lolita in Tehran”

This is a supplemental episode of our podcast series. While preparing for our most recent podcast, I (Ajay) came across a piece that Gideon Lewis-Kraus had written critiquing an article by Columbia Professor Hamid Dabashi which was, in turn, a critique of Azar Nafisi’s bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran. I was quite taken aback by Gideon’s piece both because (full-disclosure) Dabashi is my academic advisor, but far more importantly, because I agreed so vehemently with Dabashi’s original critique. As we are an institution that advocates transparency and open, critical dialogue, we thought the best thing to do was to record a brief, separate podcast in which Gideon and I were able to revisit this episode some six years later. What ensues, we hope, is an interesting discussion about politics, aesthetics, war, imperialism, writing-as-art, writing-as-industry, and a host of other issues. There is a brief Notations section after the jump. We hope you enjoy!

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The Podcast for Social Research, Episode 7: “Reading Lolita in Tehran”


00:00:25 – Introduction, On Revisiting the Controversy Surrounding Reading Lolita in Tehran

Azar Nafisi. Reading Lolita in Tehran
Hamid Dabashi.Native Informers and the Making of American Empire
Gideon Lewis-Kraus. “Pawn of the Neocons?
Seymour Hirsch. “The Iran Plans
Hamid Dabashi (int.) “Lolita and Beyond
Gayatri Spivak. “Can the Subaltern Speak?”
Sadeq Hedayat. The Blind Owl
Simin Daneshvar. Savashun
Ibn Warrag, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Comprador Intellectual
Azar Nafisi as Speaker  
David Brooks. Bobos in Paradise
Elizabeth Gilbert. Eat, Pray, Love
Forugh Farrokhzad [Ed. Note: My personal, favorite poet.] Ten. (2002) dir. Abbas Kiarostami 
Box Office for Ten
Sales for Reading Lolita in Tehran [Ed. Note: Of course, this is a loose comparison and there is much to be said for video, perhaps, but the figure for Nafisi’s book is apparently around 1.7 million copies.] Franz Fanon. Wretched of the Earth(introduction by Sartre)

Technical Details: Recorded on a Samson CO1U into an msi PC running the beta version of the freeware program Audacity 1.3.13 while consuming copious amounts of Coke Zero and good old-fashioned New York City tap water.

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