Turkish intellectual history
Theme for MES4270 spring 2019
This class introduces the study of Turkish intellectual history. The syllabus contains both primary and secondary literature—readings both by and about Turkish intellectuals. The course approaches “intellectuals” in a broad sense, reflecting the contested and evolving nature of the term. Consequently, it includes intellectuals who have identified with the concept’s enlightenment roots—the novelists, poets, journalists and commentators who saw themselves as the vanguard of their country, and who sought to fashion it into a modern, secular and ethnically homogeneous nation-state—as well as figures who have attempted to re-shape that ideal. In the process, the class also evaluates different theoretical approaches to intellectuals, from Shils and Gramsci to Foucault and Deleuze, in order to understand whether and how Turkish intellectuals matter.
Students will gain familiarity with some of Turkey’s most important thinkers and learn to evaluate their impact on Turkish political, cultural, and legal life from the late Ottoman period until today. The syllabus will allow students with Turkish skills to acquire a stronger grasp on older and/or more specialized registers of the language. Students will also become familiar with some major theoretical approaches to the study of intellectuals.
In order to submit the term paper for consideration, a first complete draft of the final term paper must be submitted and approved by Friday, May 3rd.
The exam for this class consists of a term paper, revised after comments from the teacher. The term paper should focus on one of the intellectuals covered by the syllabus. It should draw on both primary literature and secondary literature in order to place the selected intellectual in the context of Turkish history and to problematize how that intellectual reinforced, rejected, or creatively reimagined prevailing ideas of what it means to be an intellectual in Turkey.
The paper should be 15-20 pages long (12-point Times New Roman, double spacing) and should use a standard academic citation format. It should include a bibliography of the works cited.