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Faculty Spring 2021: Nergis Ertürk

Literary Encounters Across Turkey and the Soviet Union

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature

 

Titled Literary Encounters Across Turkey and the Soviet Union, my book project focuses on the literary writings of Turkish communist and ex-communist writers educated in the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s. Approaching the Bolshevik revolution as a condition of the emergence of modern Turkey, I argue that its political and cultural entanglement with the Anatolian revolution provides context for the transnational and exilic itineraries of such figures as the globally acclaimed communist poet Nâzım Hikmet, Nâzım’s collaborator, the novelist, journalist, and translator Vâlâ Nureddin, the novelist and journalist Suat Derviş, and the playwright and painter Abidin Dino. Releasing both the East-West relational model for comparative literary study and the domain division of Slavic and Middle Eastern Studies that structured Cold War-era area studies, it argues that during the first half of the twentieth century Turkey was a site of both translation and reimagination of Soviet literary genres and forms. Against the post-Kemalist evasion of this legacy, I suggest that in devising a both Turkish and worldly politics of language, time, and sexual ethics, Turkish communist and ex-communist writers recorded a prehistory of contemporary dissent.