Religious and Political Prisoners: Saberi’s book
gives voice to the countless people who are punished for no
reason except their pursuit of human rights, such as freedom
of expression, assembly, and religion. Free speech is not
valued everywhere in the world, and many people have been
imprisoned for their self-expression. How and why should we
as individuals and we as a country stand up for people who
are persecuted for their beliefs and their exercise of
universal human rights?
Modern Iran: The history and influence of Iran is felt throughout the Middle East and the world. It is a complex society that is often misunderstood by the West. Between Two Worlds offers an opportunity to discuss and try to understand modern Iran. Who are the Iranian people and what struggles and opportunities do they face?
Protesters in the Middle East: 2011 has been marked by protests across northern Africa and the Middle East. Citizens have marched in the streets calling for change. Saberi’s book provides a glimpse at some of the people she met in prison who have stood up to oppressive regimes. It also sheds light on what drives them to pursue values and freedoms at great personal sacrifice. This is an opportunity to discuss the wider protests and democratic movements across the region.
American Identity: Being an “American” means different things to different people. Saberi challenges us to think differently about identity, heritage, and history. What does it mean when we say we are American, and who gets to decide?
Journalism Today: The news business is in a tumultuous state of flux. Old media empires are crumbling and citizens are increasingly reporting on their own communities. Throughout her captivity, Saberi remained committed to the journalistic ethic of witnessing and reporting the truth. She also appreciated the power of the media in bringing attention to her imprisonment, as well as to the plights of others who could not speak out for themselves. Her account reminds us of the value of professional journalists trained to share with the world stories about people and events. What is the future of journalism and how can we ensure that journalistic values are upheld?
Religious Freedom and Self: The ability to practice or not practice a religious faith or spiritual belief system is at the core of self. Our belief systems make us who we are. How do these belief systems intertwine with our experiences to make us who we are?
The Women’s Movement and The Middle East: The role of women in Middle Eastern societies varies greatly from country to country across the region. Women are increasingly stepping forward to claim their rights and join the greater push for human rights, with Iranian women such as lawyer and Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, who have helped to lead the way. Between Two Worlds asks us to consider the complicated role that women play in Iranian and Middle Eastern society. How do most Westerners view women in the Middle East, and how do women’s rights in that part of the world affect us? What view does Between Two Worlds give us? What accounts for the differences in how women are treated within different countries?
Espionage and the U.S. Role in Our World: Iran and the United States have an entangled history of espionage stretching back to the middle of the 20th century. Today, we often hear about Iran’s accusations that countries such as the United States are trying to foment change and overthrow Iran’s regime. Where do we learn about this history, and from what perspectives should we view it?
Prison Literature: The use of prison and detention in literature relating real-life accounts and as a rhetorical device stretches back to the ancient world. Between Two Worlds is a book that not only describes the struggles of contemporary Iran and our modern world but also joins a wide range of writings about imprisonment. Notable works include classics such as Plato’s Crito (circa 400 BC), Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy (524), Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo (1844), Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from A Birmingham Jail (1963), Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song (1980), Nelson Mandela’s The Struggle is My Life (1990), Stephen King’s The Green Mile (2000).