NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ788870
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-May
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 41
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0994
Pleasurable Pedagogies: "Reading Lolita in Tehran" and the Rhetoric of Empathy
Kulbaga, Theresa A.
College English, v70 n5 p506-521 May 2008
In her audio essay for the the National Public Radio's series "This I Believe," Iranian-American author and professor Azar Nafisi celebrates the affective power of empathy. In the essay, Nafisi refers to actual people in Darfur, Afghanistan, Iraq, Algeria, Rwanda, and North Korea, but she turns to classic nineteenth-century American novel to provide her exemplary hero, Huckleberry Finn, who chooses not to turn in his friend, Jim, a runaway slave, despite social and religious pressure to do. Although Huck Finn does not play a prominent role in her bestselling book, "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books," other famous characters from American and British literature do loom large, as does her argument about the privileged relationship between empathy and fiction. In this article, the author discusses "Reading Lolita in Tehran" with Nafisi's audio essay in order to highlight the entanglements of consumer culture with self-representational practices and affective and "ethical regimes" such as popular feminism and human rights. These entanglements, the author argues, enable Nafisi's audio essay and memoir to articulate a neoliberal rhetoric and pedagogy of empathy that function through consumption, including the consumption of "great" literature and the other's story of pain and pleasure. In the case of "Reading Lolita in Tehran," the identifications produced through reading practices reveal the memoir's simultaneous investment in feminist discourses of empowerment, neoliberal discourses of individual choice, and U.S. nationalist discourses of freedom. (Contains 11 notes.)
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A