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Cultural Revolutions: Turkey and the United States During the Long 1960s

  • Author(s): Sharpe, Kenan
  • Advisor(s): Kinoshita, Sharon
  • Bivens, Hunter
  • et al.
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Abstract

This dissertation examines the relationship between social movements and cultural production in the long sixties in Turkey and the U.S. The concept of cultural revolution speaks to an oft noticed but under-theorized aspect of the period: the way movements across the world (from Cuba to France, Ghana to China) included questions of consciousness, psychic states, habits, modes of interaction, and everyday life within more concrete discussions of political/economic revolution. This project traces the theory and practice of cultural revolution through developments in cultural production. In both the Turkey and the U.S. poetry and popular music were sites of vigorous aesthetic-political debate. This dissertation compares the Turkish sixties (vastly understudied within anglophone scholarship) with the more canonical case of the U.S. and examines points of overlap and divergence in the spirit of offering a more worlded account of the period.

Chapter 1 builds on scholarship on the global sixties, the Cold War, and twentieth-century aesthetics and politics to sketch the historical and theoretical contexts for the four case studies that follow. Chapter 2 focuses on poets associated with the Second New (İkinci Yeni), an experimental literary movement that was severely critiqued by the sixties Left for being ‘formalist’ and ‘meaningless.’ My recuperative reading argues that the Second New’s seemingly hermetic modernism contains a rebuke to more ascetic factions of the Left and a call for sexuality, everyday life, and psychic states to be incorporated into visions of revolutionary change. Chapter 3 explores U.S.-based poet Denise Levertov’s anti-Vietnam War poetry that stimulated vigorous debate over the relationship of art and politics, modernism and realism. Chapter 4 centers on a genre fusing rock ‘n’ roll with Turkish folk music called Anatolian Rock. The music of Tülay German, Cem Karaca, Erkin Koray, Moğollar, and Selda Bağcan reveals how the encounter of Turkish youth with international mass culture produced hybrid and creative re-inventions of tradition: Left-leaning rockers produced anti-imperialist battle anthems for the Turkish peasantry performed in a musical genre associated with the U.S. Chapter 5 centers on two U.S. poets: Diane Di Prima, most often associated with the Beat writers in New York and the California counterculture, and Sonia Sanchez, a prominent poet in the Black Arts movement who wrote for and about other African Americans. Both poets focus their attention both on practical and the mystical, social reproduction and consciousness-transformation.

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This item is under embargo until September 20, 2021.