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2012 – Older Talks

“The Barbaric Reader: Revolution and Secrecy in Bolaño’s Distant Star

This paper analyzes Bolaño’s 1996 novel Distant Star, and specifically the novel’s narrator, a voracious reader who desires nothing more than to be a revolutionary. Though his political activities seem doomed to failure, I argue that the novel puts forth a concept of “permanent revolution” in the narrator’s betrayals of the texts he reads so closely, even though — indeed, because — he himself is unaware of these betrayals.

Date: Thursday, 18 October 2012 from 16.45 to 17.45 in the G-160 Seminar Room.
Presenter: Dr. Cory Stockwell
View entire 2012 CCI Colloquium Series

Utopian Impulses

Dr. Kory Sorrell, Bilkent University, Fall 2012
Interested students must contact Dr. Sorrell before registration.

The word “Utopia”, coined by Sir Thomas More, is a pun that refers both to “nowhere” (ou topos) and to a “happy place” (eutopos). It is in practice an imaginative projection, rooted in some time and place, of a possible future that not only carries forward the best parts of the present, but also frees us from pressing injustice, arbitrary constraint, and other sources of perceived suffering. Responding to diverse conditions, Utopian constructions vary in form, but all imagine a better way of life, and many struggle to find the means to somehow implement these visions in the here and now. “Progress”, as Oscar Wilde writes, “is the realization of Utopias”. In this seminar, we carefully examine the Utopian Impulse, its various manifestations, its historical successes and failures, and its realistic prospects for the future we will someday share. To fully appreciate and evaluate the influence of Utopian thought and practice, this seminar requires (a) close reading of literary, philosophical, and historical texts, (b) consideration of Utopian ideas in art and architecture, and (c) examination of potentially new resources for Utopian projects resulting from recent advances in the social sciences. During the seminar and in research projects, students will analytically engage these sources, provide their own deeply informed syntheses, and evaluate the relevance of the Utopian Impulse.

Medieval Germanic Epic and Saga

Dr. Denis Ferhatovic, Bilkent University, Spring 2012
Interested students must contact Dr. Ferhatovic before registration.

Thanks to popular cinematic modernizations, we are all now familiar with mighty, stoic men and women who face adversity that assumes the form of a cannibalistic monster, winged dragon, or rival tribe leader, with a firm grasp on their weapon and a brutal sense of humor.  But is there more to this type of heroism than meets the eye?  We will read about different Germanic heroes from three overlapping but distinct traditions (Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, and Middle High German), their allies and adversaries, their spectacular accomplishments and sometimes equally spectacular failures.  We will ponder such issues as military strategies, gender dynamics, portrayal of enemies, return of the repressed past, ambivalence of heroism, and afterlife of these texts in film, video-games, and comic books.

Texts:  *Beowulf* and some shorter Old English poems, *Grettir’s Saga*, *Njal’s Saga*, *The Saga of the Volsungs*, *The Nibelungenlied.*

Films:  “Beowulf and Grendel”(dir. Gunnarsson, 2005); “Beowulf” (dir. Zemeckis, 2007);  “The 13th Warrior” (dir. McTiernan, 1999); “Thor” (dir. Brannagh, 2011); “How to Train Your Dragon” (dir. DeBlois and Sanders, 2010).

“Romancing the Exotic: L’Esclave blanche (1939) and Cultural Miscegenation”

French fiction cinema of the 1930s built an intricate exotic imaginary that encompasses stories, relationships, and politics that often break away from patterns established in films more strictly defined as “colonial.” The 1939 film L’Esclave blanche [The White Slave Woman] offers a particularly intriguing example of this non-colonial exoticism. Set in Istanbul during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, the film represents intercultural romance in ways that were unseen in contemporary colonial narratives. Part comedy, part commentary, L’Esclave blanche demonstrates that the exoticist impulse was not confined to representations of empire, but it also shows that even outside the colonies, the West maintained the upper hand.

Date: 10 April 2012 from 13.30-15.30 in the G-160 Seminar Room.
Presenter: Dr. Colleen Kennedy-Karpat is an instructor in the Department of Communication and Design at Bilkent University. Her book manuscript, Rogues, Romance, and Race: Exoticism in French Fiction Cinema, 1930-1939 recently won the Northeast Modern Language Association Book Award.
View a video of L’Esclave blanche.

The Posters of Other Talks

CCI CS – 20 December 2012 – Dr. İpek Çelik

CCI CS – 26 November 2012 – Dr. Michael Meeuwis 

CCI CS – 8 November 2012 – Dr. William Coker

CCI CS – 13 March 2012 – Dr. Daniel Leonard

CCI CS – 6 February 2012 – Dr. Chris Love