'Women's Genre Writing: From Turkey to the Rest of the World'

deadline for submissions: 
January 30, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Ozyegin University

'Women's Genre Writing: From Turkey to the Rest of the World'
A one-day, online symposium, 29 April 2022
Organized as part of the Muslim Women’s Popular Fiction Network
Özyeğin University
With support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the UK


 Keynote Speakers:

 Maureen Freely (The University of Warwick)
 Aron Aji (The University of Iowa)

Translation is credited with breathing new life to texts, and giving voice to the voiceless. The work of women authors, however, remain bereft of new lives and new voices in the world’s many languages. On the other hand, Olga Castro and Emek Ergun (2018: 132) point out that, ‘what matters is not simply whether or not women writers get translated, but rather (a) which geopolitical, cultural and linguistic realities are believed to yield legitimate stories and truths worthy of translation, and (b) the political consequences of those literary flows that, more often than not, perpetuate “West-to-the-Rest narratives” (Costa 2006: 73), enforcing the hegemony of western values.’

The selection, translation, circulation and reception of works for a global readership have been debated by a rich scholarship in World Literature as well as Translation Studies. In his germinal What Is World Literature?, David Damrosch (2003: 283) famously argues for two points of interaction in the mobility of works: the source culture, along with the needs and values of the host culture. Burcu Alkan and Çimen Günay-Erkol (2021) title the introduction of their recent edited volume, Turkish Literature as World Literature, with a question: ‘What is in a preposition?’ --- What, indeed, does ‘as World Literature’ refer to? What constitutes the mobility of certain works? Drawing on Damrosch’s three-tiered model of world literature that consists of ‘a hypercanon, a countercanon, and a shadow canon’, they rightfully remind us, ‘Most of the time only certain works – major and/or popular – of a national literature make it through this gateway with the “minor” alternatives lining up in decreasing order of interest, awaiting translation and publication’ (2).

Arif Dirlik (2002: 216) calls the expectation of translated works to speak for an authentic identity of their departure communities a ‘burden of translation.’ In her Swedish PEN speech on the politics of translation and Turkish woman writers, literary publisher Müge Gürsoy Sökmen defines the process of selection as a ‘prejudice barrier’ where publishers expect to see certain ‘Oriental’ issues in these writers’ works. Once an author seems fit to carry the burden, then, Sökmen argues, a ‘quota barrier’ appears where publishers are concerned about having already published enough Turkish authors to fulfil expectations. This one-day symposium will focus on the work of women writers of Turkey in global waters. What does it mean to be an author from Turkey in the global book market? How does an author’s cultural identity play out in international mobility, promotion and reception of the work? More specifically, what happens when gender and sexual orientation in relation to national identity come into play in the categorization of the works? Are the works expected to comply with certain expectations in terms of their subject matters? Are they refracted (1982), or manipulated (1992), in Lefevere’s vocabulary, and if yes, in what ways? How does genre act as a variant in women’s writing? Is there a feedback loop?: do expectations of representation also affect the act of translation? What kind of ‘after-life’ awaits these works once they are on the move?

The symposium will be an opportunity for colleagues to discuss the politics of being a woman writer of Turkey in the global book market. It will contribute to current debates on World Literature and the growing field of Feminist Translation Studies.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

Translating the local to a global audience
Women’s genre writing in translation
Translatability and untranslatability
Reception – by professional and lay readers
Women and World Literature
Categorization and circulation
Global representation
Paratexts – book packaging and promotion practices
Translated authors vs. authors writing originally in English
Self-translation and retranslation
Women translators translating women authors
The ethics of translating women
Translation and experiential knowledge
Censorship and self-censorship

Proposals of 250 words for 20-minute papers in English and a 100-word biography should be emailed to womensgenrewriting@gmail.com by Monday 30 January 2022. Notifications to potential speakers will be sent out by Monday 15 February 2022.

Organization Committee:

Şima İmşir (Özyeğin University)
Duygu Tekgül-Akın (Yeditepe University)


Alkan, Burcu and Çimen Günay-Erkol (2021) 'Introduction: “Turkish Literature as World Literature?” What Is in a Preposition?' Turkish Literature as World Literature. Burcu Alkan and Çimen Günay-Erkol (eds.) London and New York: Bloomsbury, pp.1-16.

Castro, Olga and Emek Ergun (2018) 'Translation and Feminism' The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics. Jon Evans and Fruela Fernandez (eds.) London: Routledge, pp. 125-143.

Costa, Claudia de Lima (2006) ‘Lost (and Found?) in Translation: Feminisms in Hemispheric Dialogue’ Latino Studies 4: 62-78.

Damrosch, David (2003) What is World Literature? Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Dirlik, Arif 'Literature/Identity: Transnationalism, Narrative and Representation' Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies 24:3, 209-234.

Gürsoy Sökmen, Müge (2002) 'Being a Woman Publisher in Islamist Country', Bianet, 25 November, available from https://bianet.org/english/people/14841-being-a-woman- publisher-in-islamist-country

Lefevere, André (1982) 'Mother Courage’s Cucumbers: Text, System and Refraction in a Theory of Literature' Modern Language Studies 12 (4): 3-20.

------ (1992) Translation, Rewriting, and the Manipulation of Literary Fame. London and New York: Routledge.