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2010 – Older Talks

Unwritten History or Unwriting History: On Armenians, Greeks and Jews in Turkish Literature

The contributions made by non-Muslim authors to Ottoman Turkish literature have largely been ignored by mainstream literary historians and critics. This papers aims to present Armeno-Turkish, Judeo-Turkish and Karamanli literatures and to explore the challenges it represents for Turkish literary historiography and criticism.
Date: 23 November 2010
Speaker: Dr. Laurent Mignon, Bilkent University, Department of Turkish Literature

The Irony of American Tragedy

We have heard, often, that in America, a country in which a belief in betterment, optimism and individual triumph reign supreme (at least, this is the narrative), tragedy is not possible. Most often, though, the criteria for tragic status stems from a single work of philosophy: Aristotle’s Poetics, rather than from attentive consideration of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides’ wildly divergent tragedies. I will argue that we have seen, in this last decade, an upswing in American tragedies rooted in, “the irony of American history,” (to borrow Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous title) and in the media of episodic television and film. To understand this upswing, though, we need to look carefully at the individual Athenian tragedies themselves.
Date: 9 November 2010
Speaker: Dr. Christopher Love, Bilkent University, Program in Cultures, Civilizations & Ideas

Family Worship for Dummies: Defoe’s Trusted Brand, the FamilyInstructor Conduct Books

The Crusoe sequels, The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe(1719) and Serious Reflections on the life of Robinson Crusoe(1720), receive little critical attention, a neglect attributed to the increasing formal disparity between the later novels and Robinson Crusoe (1719). Reading Defoe’s Family Instructor series of conduct books (The Family Instructor [1715], The Family Instructor II [1718] and A New Family Instructor [1727]) alongside the Robinson Crusoe series reveals a larger scheme at work. Defoe reuses titles and characters to create unlikely partnerships between texts in order to bring a general readership to theologically sophisticated work. These formal disparities do not signal artistic lapses; they represent Defoe’s attempt to use earlier texts as brand-like entities.
Date: 26 October 2010
Speaker: Dr. Margaret France, Bilkent University, Program in Cultures, Civilizations & Ideas

Theodore Roosevelt and New York: The Future President’s Urban Roots 

Theodore Roosevelt has become an icon of the American West, frequently portrayed in history as a cowboy, hunter, and cattle rancher.  This image obscures the fact that Roosevelt was born and raised in New York City, the most throughly urbanized part of the United States.  Moreover, he made his early political career in New York, serving in the state assembly, running for mayor, and serving as police commissioner.  While many Roosevelt biographers seek to place Roosevelt and his future policies in a western context, it is really New York City that shaped his ideas about America and launched his political career.
Date: 19 October 2010
Speaker: Dr. Edward Kohn, Bilkent University Department of History, Chairman of Department of American Culture and Literature.