EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 25 Mai 2016 | 17:00–18:30

Didactic Realism: Aras Ören, Nazım Hikmet, and Bertolt Brecht

Ela Gezen (University of Massachusetts Amherst / EUME Fellow 2015/16), Chair: Banu Karaca (ART HISTORIES Fellow 2015/16)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Aras Ören is one of the earliest and most significant contributors to the emergence of Turkish-German literature. His literary breakthrough came in 1973, with the publication of the first part of “Was will Niyazi in der Naunynstrasse,ˮ a narrative poem that would prove to be the first part of his significant Berlin Trilogy. Paying special attention to Ören's representation of workers' solidarity and of Turkish participation in the German workers’ movement, this talk will show how his work casts Turkish workers as subjects, not objects, of German labor history. Thus in addition to focusing on the specific predicaments faced by Berlin proletarians from the 19th century to the present, Ören’s poetry also analyzes problems that German and Turkish workers must face in common. Moreover, as my analysis will illustrate, Ören’s project evinces a very specific theoretical heritage at the formal-technical level, forging a kind of realist didacticism out of the related (but
distinct) conceptions of realist aesthetics developed by Bertolt Brecht and Nazim Hikmet. In Ören’s dialectical concept of literary aesthetics, writing functions as social analysis and criticism, and insists that both writer and reader reflect on social circumstances with the intention to change them.

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 and culture, with emphases on literatures of migration, minority discourses, historical and theoretical accounts of transnationalism, and literary and cultural theory. 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.

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