Brecht, Turkish Theater, and Turkish-German Literature

April 2018
14 black and white illustrations
174 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, PER011020, HIS014000

Brecht, Turkish Theater, and Turkish-German Literature

Reception, Adaptation, and Innovation after 1960

Ela E. Gezen

Uncovers the central role of Brecht reception in Turkish theater and Turkish-German literature, examining interactions between Turkish and German writers, texts, and contexts.

Bertolt Brecht died in 1956, but his theory and practice has continued to shape debates about the politics of culture - not only in Germany, but in Turkey as well, where a new generation of intellectuals emerged during a period of liberalization in the 1960s and sought to link culture to politics, art to life, theater to revolutionary practice. Ever since, Brecht has connected two cultures that have become ever more intertwined. Drawing upon archival research and close textual analysis, this study reconstructs how Brecht's thought was first interpreted by theater practitioners in Turkey and then by Turkish writers living in Germany. Gezen first focuses on Turkey in the 1960s, reconstructing theater programming and critical debates in literary journals in order to explore how Brechtian stage productions thematized issues in Turkish politics and cultural affairs. She then traces the significance of Brechtian theater practice and aesthetics for Aras Ören (1939-) and Emine Sevgi Özdamar (1946-), two important writers, actors, and dramatists who emigrated to Germany. By shedding light on their theatrical involvement in Turkey and East and West Germany, this study not only introduces a new context for comprehending individual works, but also enhances our understanding of the intellectual interchanges that shaped the emergence of Turkish-German literature.

Ela E. Gezen is Associate Professor of German at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Table of Contents

Intersections of Politics and Aesthetics: Bertolt Brecht in the Turkish Context
Didactic Realism: Aras Ören and Working-Class Culture
Staged Pasts: Emine Sevgi Özdamar's Dramatic Aesthetic


This incisive study demonstrates that just as Turkish-German encounters prove surprisingly key to expanding our grasp of Brechtian theater as practiced and theorized in cold-war Germany, Brechtian theater also proves key to revising our understanding of the aesthetics and history of Turkish-German culture in and beyond Germany. Ela E. Gezen dramatically rewrites the foundational literary history of an era, with stunning consequences for literary analysis today. - Leslie A. Adelson, Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of German Studies, Cornell University

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