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Translation and the Experience of Modernity: A History of German Turkish Connectivity

  • Author(s): Dickinson, Kristin Ann
  • Advisor(s): Göktürk, Deniz
  • Igsiz, Z. Asli
  • et al.
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This dissertation traces the development of a German Turkish translational relationship from the first publication of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s West-östlicher Divan [1819, West-eastern Divan] to the speeches and events surrounding the 2008 Frankfurt Book Fair, Turkey in All Its Colors. While attending to the continued uneven circulation of texts in the global marketplace, I examine the crucial role translations—as well as literary texts that theorize translation—played throughout the history of German Turkish literary exchange. Informed by the centrality of large-scale translation movements to the cultural experience of modernity and the development of national literary cultures in both the German and Turkish contexts, my case studies nevertheless exhibit omnidirectional translation practices that exceed the realm of the national. They reveal the centrality of Ottoman literature and history to even highly canonical German authors such as Goethe, and exhibit a sense of agency on both sides of a German Turkish translational exchange that counters Ottoman perceptions of its literary belatedness vis-à-vis the “West.”

The second part of this dissertation considers the significance of an extended German Turkish translational relationship for the contemporary field of Turkish German studies. In particular, I read Zafer Şenocak’s oft-cited call for an “extension of the concept of Germanness” in relation to his most recent novels written in Turkish. A move that demands translation into the German speaking realm from the outset, Şenocak’s “Turkish turn” shifts from a focus on (post)migrants’ relative ability to participate in a specifically German history to moments of real and imagined German Turkish contact across national lines. In successive chapters I read the abandoned Ottoman pavilion at the center of Köşk [2008, The Residence] —where the main character translates the poetry of Ingeborg Bachmann following the 1960 Turkish military coup—and the international stage provided by the Frankfurt Book Fair as key translational sites from which new modes of listening, speaking, and multidirectional remembering are negotiated for Turkish German studies in the 21st century.

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This item is under embargo until May 14, 2020.