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«by Adile Esen A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Germanic Languages and ...»

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Adile Esen

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

(Germanic Languages and Literatures)

in The University of Michigan


Doctoral Committee:

Associate Professor Johannes E. von Moltke, Co-Chair Assistant Professor Kader Konuk, Co-Chair Associate Professor Julia C. Hell Associate Professor Robin Queen To Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his master Guru Dev with all my gratitude ii Acknowledgements A dissertation is the final product of a long and intensive journey. Along this journey, I have been fortunate to be supported and guided by wonderful people. First, I like to thank those who have been in my immediate academic environment here at the University of Michigan. I am most grateful to the co-chairs of my dissertation committee, Kader Konuk and Johannes von Moltke, who have with endless patience supervised my dissertation.

They have always heard me through and inspired me to become better. I would like to thank my other committee member, Robin Queen, who has likewise given me numerous inspirational ideas and encouraging suggestions about my work. I also thank my last committee member, Julia Hell, who joined my committee only at the last minute and has nevertheless also been wonderful in giving significant encouraging suggestions to my work. Besides my committee, I like to thank Scott Spector, Fred Amrine, and Helmut Puff for their support and for having given me direction in my first years at the German department. I am also most thankful to Hartmut Rastalsky whose support and understanding has made teaching and being a graduate student as balanced as it can be. I give thanks to Ela Gezen, a colleague and a true friend. I thank also to Seth Howes and Josh Hawkins for their help with editing different stages of my dissertation. Thanks to Sun-Young Kim, Michael Andre, Dave Choberka, John Wipplinger, Avi Kempinski, Mike Layne, and Ilka Rasch for their colleagial and friendly support. Thank you to Marga Schuhwerk-Hampel for all her administrative support and her wonderful insights. Thank you to the other staff members, Sheri Sytsema-Geiger, Nancy Blasch, and Kate Ballentine for their administrative help and patience as well. I also want to give great thanks to Sweetland Writing Institute staff for their help with my project and writing.

Outside of the academic environment at Michigan, I thank wholeheartedly Dr.Jutta Birmele, my former graduate advisor at CSULB, for having encouraged me to pursue a Ph.D andher on-going support and friendship throughout the years. I thank Prof.

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I like to extend thanks to my friends who have emotionally supported me through this journey as well. Thanks to my long time friends Linda Renner and Tracie Swiecki for listening to me patiently during my down times and uplifting me with their positivity. I also thank to a friend who came to my life here in Michigan, Carol Lubetkin, for guiding me in many ways and for always encouraging me to keep going. Thanks as well to dear Deryl Honor, Tom Masuga, and Ruth and Don Lamphear for many meditations and for all their encouragement. Thanks to my friends Jennifer Quarton, Sally Stegeman, Carrie Collenberg, Marsha Blauwkamp, and Catherine Drittenbass also for all their listening and support. I also thank Hannah Masuga for her recent engagement with my work and her insights. Although I have kept it to last, I give my deepest appreciation to my parents and to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Without their love and support, I could not have finished this dissertation. I thank my parents for always accepting me as I am and to Maharishi for the knowledge to make this me better.

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Chapter 1: Relationally Constructed Worlds in Selim oder die Gabe der Rede and Der weinende Granatapfel………………………………………………………29 Chapter 2: Multiply Layered Worlds

Chapter 3: Moving Pictures in Between Cities



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This dissertation undertakes an interdisciplinary investigation of recent TurkishGerman literature and film. Focusing on the motif of travel, it analyzes the ways in which novels and feature films since unification have constructed notions of identity and borders, self and other, of Turkey, Germany, and the fluid boundaries between these ostensibly separate worlds. In doing so, the dissertation takes as its point of departure Leslie Adelson‘s powerful 2003 critique of texts and approaches that would suspend Turkish-German subjects ―between two worlds,‖ separating them from German culture rather than situating them in the complex, hybrid realities of both Turkey and Germany today. With their emphasis on travel and movement, I claim, novels and films since unification mark a departure from earlier forms of Gastarbeiterliteratur and –film and have contributed significantly to unsettling the troublesome paradigm of a static ―inbetween.‖ To trace this shift, chapter one analyzes two novels that narrate the travels of German protagonists in Turkey. I show how both Selim oder Die Gabe der Rede (1990) by Sten Nadolny and Der weinende Granatapfel (1990) by Alev Tekinay, first mobilize the premises of the ―two worlds‖ paradigm at the level of character and then undo those premises through narration. Chapter two analyzes the novels Selam Berlin (2003) by Yade Kara and Die Brücke vom Goldenen Horn (1998) by Emine Sevgi Özdamar.

Mapping their protagonists‘ transformations onto socio-political transitions in Turkey and Germany, the novels destabilize presumed borders and chart connections between Turkey

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Head-On (2004) and The Edge of Heaven (2007). It analyzes new trajectories, such as second generation homecoming travels to Turkey and a back-and-forth movement between Turkish and German worlds. Destabilizing presumed understandings of fixed borders and identities, mapping transnational connections, and revealing shared histories, the novels and films analyzed in this dissertation offer ways of thinking beyond the divisions ostensibly inscribed in cultural, ethnic, and national forms of belonging.

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During a 2009 lecture at the University of Michigan, the renowned TurkishGerman writer Zafer Şenocak explained his ideas on the refusal of the ―between two worlds‖ paradigm by one of the leading scholars in Turkish-German studies, Leslie Adelson. The literary paradigm in question entails a binary thinking between Turkey and Germany, which both in primary literature and analyses frequently characterizes Turkish migrants as static figures between the two cultures. Şenocak was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1961 and moved to Münich in 1970. Since the 1980s, he has been writing poems, essays, and novels.1 Şenocak affirmed that Leslie Adelson is indeed correct in rejecting this paradigm and the ―in-between‖ metaphor that characterizes migrants as stuck in between two worlds.2 Şenocak emphasized how suspension and immobility do not capture the situation and provided his own experience as an example, which he explained as a condition of transitional existence between Turkish and German cultures—of looking, seeking, going between Turkey and Germany —not motionless and certainly not stuck in between anywhere.

1 After the 1980s, Şenocak‘s poetic voice gave way to two volumes of essays, Atlas des tropischen Deutschland (Atlas of the Tropical Germany, 1992), and War Hitler Araber? IrreFührungen an den Rand Euoropas (Was Hitler an Arab? A crazy guide to the edge of Europe, 1994.) His most prominent works of fiction are his short story collection, Der Mann im Unterhemd (The man in the undershirt, 1995), Die Prärie (The prairie, 1997), and his novel Gefährliche Verwandschaft (Dangerous relations, 1998).

2 Leslie Adelson, ―Against Between: A Manifesto,‖ ―New Perspectives on Turkey,‖ (Spring- Fall 2003), 24.

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treats Turkey and Germany as fixed, homogeneous, and stable worlds, and assumes an ―absolute cultural divide‖ between the countries.3 Adelson is highly critical of the way the ―between two worlds‖ paradigm functions both as a motif in Turkish-German texts and as a metaphor for thinking about Turkish-German cultural productivity, characters, and authors from the past two decades.4 This dissertation investigates the various ways in which Turkish–German literature and film after the early 1990s deploy travel as a motif in their narratives. I explore how the utilizations of this motif transcend the narrow metaphors of the ―between two worlds‖ paradigm and enable productive destabilizing effects.

The four novels and two films analyzed in the dissertation enable the emergence of positive effects regarding individual identities as well as the worlds of Turkey and Germany and their relation through alternative formations of cultural contact and mobility. These positive effects are multiple. They regard the ways in which the texts problematize and undermine the play of cultural and ethnic difference and the persistence of thinking within a ―two world‖ binary. Further, while destabilizing presumed understandings about fixed borders and identities, the texts portray fluid identities in transitions as well as portray Turkey and Germany as complexly changing. Certain texts chart transnational connections, reveal shared histories, and illuminate characters and their worlds in global interconnectedness.

3 Leslie Adelson, ―Against Between: A Manifesto,‖ ―New Perspectives on Turkey,‖ (Spring- Fall 2003), 22.

Adelson, The Turkish Turn in Contemporary German Literature, Palgrave, 2005, 5.

4 Although Adelson is critical of the paradigm at large, her emphasis on the paradigm‘s unsuitable nature especially for the texts after the 1990s regards the ways in which after the 1990s, diversified styles and themes that open up new understandings about Turkey and Germany then indeed necessitate alternative readings that acknowledge this newer literature‘s merits.

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Nadolny and Der weinende Granatafpel (1990) by Alev Tekinay represent their German protagonists as displaced ‗others‘ in Turkey, and enable the interrogation and destabilization of their protagonists‘ thinking with the two worlds paradigm.5 In the second chapter, the novels Selam Berlin (2003) and Die Brücke vom Goldenen Horn (1998) portray two young protagonists who develop new identifications and transcultural identities after departing from Turkey and in their travels to Germany. The narrations of both protagonists‘ constant travels in these cities display Turkey and Germany as multilayered and interconnected rather than as two separate worlds. In the third chapter, Fatih Akin‘s films, Head-On (2004) and The Edge of Heaven (2007) mobilize travel along a bi-directional route. The films convey a new trajectory for Turkish-German characters of the second generation by depicting their travels to Turkey from Germany as new beginnings that portray alternative ‗homecomings‘ to a new land—to Turkey.

Adelson pertinently observes a ―Turkish turn in contemporary German literature‖ which ―began to acquire critical mass in German-language fiction in the 1990s‖—the decade when ―ethnic signifiers, memory cultures, and tectonic shifts in transnational conflicts loomed disorientingly large, not only in Germany but on a global stage in dramatic transition.‖ I focus on the texts after the 1990s because of these texts‘ alternative charting—on an imaginative level—of significant changes.6 These changes regard the ways in which the texts help undermine the two worlds paradigm that 5 When I use the phrase the two worlds paradigm, I do so with the understanding that it connotes the same idea inherent in the ―between two worlds‖ paradigm; it entails thinking with fixed ―two worlds‖ – imagining cultures as exclusively intact and homogeneous entities. I leave it unmarked with the understanding that whenever the word paradigm is already in the phrase, this inherently denotes the pitfalls of the binary thinking with the paradigm.

6 Leslie Adelson, The Turkish Turn in Contemporary German Literature, 15.

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the presence of people with Turkish origin in Germany. The texts analyzed in this dissertation challenge and write alternatives to major/minor discourses between Turkey and Germany and subvert the dynamics of bounded ethnic and national categories. At the same time, the texts significantly map the growing transnational climatic that envelop the relation of these countries.

This introduction will later explain the significance of the texts analyzed in the dissertation within the larger dynamics of socio-political and cultural shifts in Germany and Europe after the 1990s. At this point, I want to locate the trajectory of the development of Turkish-German literature from its beginning days in the 1960s. This historical context helps explicate the relevance of the ―between two worlds‖ paradigm to Turkish-German literature, Adelson‘s refusal of the paradigm, as well as my investigation about portrayals of travels and characters‘ lives between Turkish and German cultures.

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