Ela E. Gezen

Wednesday, 06 June 2018, 5.00 pm - 6.30 pm |
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Brecht, Turkish Theater, and Turkish-German Literature

Ela E.Gezen
(University of Massachusetts / EUME Fellow 2015/16)

Chair: Georges Khalil
(Forum Transregionale Studien / EUME)

Bertolt Brecht died in 1956, but his theory and practice has continued to shape debates about the politics of culture – not only in Germany, but in Turkey as well, where a new generation of intellectuals emerged during a period of liberalization in the 1960s and sought to link culture to politics, art to life, theater to revolutionary practice. Ever since, Brecht has connected two cultures that have become ever more intertwined. Drawing upon archival research and close textual analysis, this study reconstructs how Brecht's thought was first interpreted by theater practitioners in Turkey and then by Turkish writers living in Germany. Ela Gezen first focuses on Turkey in the 1960s, reconstructing theater programming and critical debates in literary journals in order to explore how Brechtian stage productions thematized issues in Turkish politics and cultural affairs. She then traces the significance of Brechtian theater practice and aesthetics for Aras Ören (1939-) and Emine Sevgi Özdamar (1946-), two important writers, actors, and dramatists who emigrated to Germany. By shedding light on their theatrical involvement in Turkey and East and West Germany, this study not only introduces a new context for comprehending individual works, but also enhances our understanding of the intellectual interchanges that shaped the emergence of Turkish-German literature.

Ela Gezen received her MA in Central Eurasian Studies (Turkish) from Indiana University and her PhD in German Studies from the University of Michigan. Since 2012 she has been Assistant Professor of German at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research and teaching focus on 20th century German and Turkish literature, theater, and music, with emphases on literatures of migration, minority discourses, historical and theoretical accounts of transnationalism, and literary and cultural theory. She recently completed her first book Brecht, Turkish Theater, and Turkish-German Literature: Reception, Adaptation, and Innovation after 1960 which appeared with Camden House in April 2018. She has co-edited two special issues, Colloquia Germanica (“Transnational Hi/Stories: Turkish-German Texts and Contexts”) and the Jahrbuch türkisch-deutsche Studien (“Turkish-German Studies: Past, Present, and Future”), exploring new directions in Turkish-German Studies by expanding geographical, methodological, and temporal frameworks. In addition she has published articles on music and literature, focusing on the intersection between aesthetics and politics in both Turkish and German contexts.

Ela Gezen's article on her book in the series "New Books" on the TRAFO Blog.