Movement, Mobilities and Migration in Ottoman and Turkish Literatures
11.30 – 13.30
Chair: Feras Alkabani, University of Sussex
Portrait of the Artist as a Nostalgic Ottoman Turk? Ottoman Nostalgia in ?rfan Orga’s Portrait of a Turkish Family (1950) and Dark Journey (2014)
Peter Cherry, University of Edinburgh
This paper examines the British Turkish writer ?rfan Orga’s family memoir Portrait of a Turkish Family (1950) and his posthumously published novel Dark Journey (2014) in relation to each text’s exploration of Ottoman nostalgia, nationality and gender. Leaving Turkey under complicated circumstances in 1947, Orga’s migration to Britain marked the beginning of his literary and journalistic career, over the course of which he published travel writing, a biography of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and, perhaps surprisingly, a best-selling cookery book. The most read text in his corpus is Portrait of a Turkish Family which traces his family’s socio-economic descent from late Ottoman affluence into impoverishment. Along the way, the text offers a sentimental, but at times auto-ethnographic, account of the societal changes in Istanbul during the twilight years of the Ottoman Empire and the early years of the modern Turkish Republic. A similar set of themes are taken up in Orga’s novel Dark Journey, which imagines a young widow struggling to financially support herself and her son in late-Ottoman and early-Republican-era Istanbul. Although they represent different literary forms, both texts probe and ambivalently engage with the changing situation for Turkish women in Istanbul during this momentous period of social change. I consider the ways Orga packages a sentimentally-charged notion of Ottoman Turkishness for a British reading audience that sought to complicate and challenge Kemalist visions of a ‘modern’, progressive Turkishness, particularly in relation to gender and women’s rights.
Ekphrastic View of Sculpture in Evliyâ Çelebi’s Seyahatnâme (Book of Travels)
Nilay Kaya, Istanbul Bilgi University
As a part of ancient Greek and Roman rhetorical practice, ekphrasis refers to the rendering of a visual object in written form, and it has become a literary tool since the description of Achilles’ shield in Homer’s ?lliad. Ekphrasis has been a frequently used literary practice which writers, historians and art critics apply to their work. It can be defined as the description of visual art objects through fictional forms such as poetry and the novel. However, it can also appear in prose writing such as history, art criticism and travelogues. Studying ekphrasis, then, can help us analyse a writer’s handling of and affective relationship with particular objects. This paper will examine Evliyâ Çelebi’s “ekphrastic” approach when describing certain sculptures in Seyahatnâme (The Book of Travels). My presentation will especially focus on how subjective factors determine the writer’s aesthetic appreciation of art objects and how his attitudes towards exoticism, magic, amulets and religion are observed through sustained analysis of Çelebi’s ekphrastic approach. What kind of fictive language does ekphrasis, which is essentially the act of making the silent image and object talk, show in Evliyâ Çelebi’s work? How does the reflection of personal taste and cultural positioning affect an aesthetic view of Evliyâ Çelebi’s “ekphrastic” narrative? By asking these questions, I aim to interrogate the Seyahatnâme’s relationship to art and aesthetics and put forward a new reading of the Seyahatnâme and its aesthetic approach in light of Çelebi’s ekphrasis.
Female Statics vs. Male Dynamics – Gender and Migration from the Ottoman Empire in Impure Blood by Bora Stankovi? and Mara Milosnica by Ivo Adri?
Marija Tepavac, University of Vienna
This presentation will examine and compare the literary treatment of migration between Ottoman Turkey and Eastern Europe in Ivo Andri?’s Mara Milosnica (1926) and Bora Stankovi?’s Impure Blood (1910). Each of these novels explore the experience of female subjects who had romantic and sexual affairs with Ottoman Turk male lovers in the period running up to the partial-independence of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Protagonists in the two novels, Mara and Sofka, struggle to adapt from living amongst Ottoman Turks to their new cultural and socio-economic conditions. These novels are particularly concerned with how liberation from the Ottoman Empire affects female gender roles. As such, the texts engage with themes of gender and how it is transformed through migration, and also assess and explore Ottoman influence upon its female characters. Drawing on a common trope of fin-de-siècle cultural pessimism and exploring the position of women as a static and alienated object, defined centuries ago in the Ottoman tradition, these texts open up a literary space to consider how migration challenges essentialist notions of Ottoman and Balkan gender roles. In my paper, both novels will be examined through a lens that combines migration and gender studies approaches, to highlight the literary representation of Ottoman migration and its consequences and influences on Balkan literature; and the re-definition of the female position in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Social Darwinism and Illness in Halide Edib’s Fiction
Sima Imsir Parker, University of Manchester
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, scientific world-views were espoused by many Ottoman intellectuals who theorised a new Ottoman society based upon the values of positivism. Following the foundation of the modern Turkish Republic, these perspectives evolved into discourses on the “fit nation”. In particular, the work of German materialist Ludwig Buchner, French physiologist Claude Bernard and later, English naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin, among many others, became hotly debated within the Ottoman and Republican intellectual milieu as key scientific and positivist ideas through which society could be analysed and transformed. As the hereditary qualities of the population became a matter of concern, Social Darwinist discourse inevitably found its representation in works of literature from melodramas of Kerime Nadir to Halide Edib’s national romances. Specifically in Halide Edib’s works, the sick heroines of early works are replaced with definitively healthy and fit heroines in her later works. In this presentation, I will focus on her Mevud Hüküm, a novel Halide Edib dedicates to “the soul of Emile Zola”, as a transitional text which focuses on the ills of society; more particularly alcoholism, hereditary madness and venereal diseases. This paper argues that, on the one hand, Halide Edib’s text reflects the deterministic socio-medical discourse of the Second Constitutional Era through an idealist doctor Kas?m ?inasi; and on the other hand, the objective mind of a scientist is challenged through Kas?m ?inasi’s love for syphilitic Sara, as the text is transformed into an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Othello.