Special Issue: Queer Turkish and Ottoman Literature

Christopher Barnes 's picture
Call for Papers
March 1, 2023
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Literature, Middle East History / Studies, Sexuality Studies

Queer Turkish and Ottoman Literature”

CFP for Culture, Theory and Critique


Guest Editor: Ipek Sahinler



We invite article submissions for inclusion in a special issue of Culture, Theory and Critique (to be published in March 2024) on the topic of “Queer Turkish and Ottoman Literature.”



Queer Theory is thirty-three years old today. However, as a school of criticism, it has been jeopardizing its core premise of “deconstructing the center” by centralizing itself around the LGBTI+ discourse. Furthermore, we seldom see queermethodologies being used in the study of cultural productions from the “Third World,” which has historically been defined as non-sterile, perverted, underdeveloped, primitive, and queer in the face of the West (through works by critics and theorists such as Edward Said, or Mary Louise Pratt). This is evident from how Anglo-American culture, by orientalizing the Middle East, has unwittingly attributed a queerness to its other. Therefore, we ironically owe the possibility of talking about the queerness of the Middle East to the Western binary opposition that defines its civilizational Other (Aijaz Ahmad) as marginal. Though scholars and researchers from different disciplines and parts of the world have approached the Middle East from queer perspectives, Turkish literature has not been studied with the tools of Queer Theory. In other words, representations and articulations of queerness in Turkish and Ottoman literature are still an overlooked area and there is no special issue of a journal, book or academic collection devoted to this topic.


In light of the above, this special issue aims to unravel how Queer Theory can be used to understand Turkish and Ottoman literature. Concomitantly, we aim to bring together original, unpublished works to discuss theoretical applications of queer thinking in the study of Turkish and Ottoman literature. To this end, we have three objectives. First, to talk about proto-queer novels and stories written in Ottoman/Turkish. Second, to discuss whether Queer Theory can speak, not for, but about Ottoman/Turkish literature. Finally, to show when Ottoman/Turkish literature is proto-queer and how it can subvert the current, ossified articulations of queerness anchored around LGBTI+ politics. If this is important it is because doing so will enable us to broaden the remit of queerness and thus “let queer take on meanings” (1993: 228), as Judith Butler counselled thirty years ago.





For this special issue, we seek papers that will contribute to the investigation and theorization of queerness in Turkish and Ottoman literature. Proposed articles may address a wide range of topics, such as representations of queerness, articulations of non-normative sexualities and identities in Turkish and Ottoman literature. Original and unpublished papers from different disciplines, such as comparative literature, linguistics, gender studies, queer studies, and translation studies, will be considered. Topics include but are not limited to: queer fiction and non-fiction written in early modern/modern/contemporary Turkish and/or Ottoman-Turkish; queerness being used as a subversive writerly strategy in authoritarian times; narratives challenged by their queer(ing) content; grammatical or linguistic queerness; translating queer into Turkish; queer affect conveyed via Turkish. Interested individuals should submit an abstract of no more than 350 words plus a short bio (as one single document) to ipeksahinler@utexas.edu by March 1st, 2023.



Proposals for articles: March 1st, 2023

Notification of acceptance: March 14th, 2023

Manuscript due for internal review: July 1st, 2023

Articles sent for external peer review: September 20th, 2023

Revised articles: December 6th, 2023

Publication: March 2024




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