Broken Masculinities: Solitude, Alienation, and Frustration in Turkish Literature after 1970

Broken Masculinities: Solitude, Alienation, and Frustration in Turkish Literature after 1970

Broken Masculinities: Solitude, Alienation, and Frustration in Turkish Literature after 1970

Broken Masculinities: Solitude, Alienation, and Frustration in Turkish Literature after 1970

Synopsis

Broken Masculinities portrays the post-dictatorial novel of the 1970s in all its complexity, and introduces the reader to a 1968-era Turkey, a period which challenges Turkey’s now reinforced Islamic image by portraying the quest for sexual liberation and critical student uprisings. Günay-Erkol argues that the literature written after the 1971 coup in Turkey constitutes a coherent sub-genre and needs to be considered together. These novels share a common ground which is rich in images of men and women craving for power: general isolation, sexual-emotional frustration, and a traumatic sense of solitude and alienation. This book is an original and significant contribution to two major fields of study: (1) gender and sexuality with respect to formation of subjectivity through literature, and (2) modern literature and history through the study of Turkish literature. The chief concern in this book is not only literature’s response to a particular period in Turkey, but also the role of literature in bearing witness to trauma and drastic political acts of violence—and coming to terms with them.

Excerpt

Preface

This book is an attempt to understand gender from the perspective of masculinities with Turkey’s military periods as the backdrop. I am especially interested in the coup of 1971, which traumatized the climactic 1968 spirit in Turkey. I focus on novels published during and after the military intervention of 12 March 1971, which punished 1968 radicalism grievously and put the brakes on the rise of socialism in Turkey. Such an attempt allows one to reflect on some of the broader cultural and literary questions pertinent to Turkey, as well as the obscure history of the military coups, which has not been widely explored. It is hard to find books in English that address Turkey’s 1968 as most of them refer to movements from Latin America or China for comparison. Turkey’s political mobilization in 1968 took a serious toll and was threatening for the state. This was a close parallel with Europe in terms of timing, as the events in Istanbul followed those in Paris within a matter of weeks. Four weeks after the Sorbonne occupation on 13 May 1968, students occupied Istanbul Technical University on 17 June 1968. Students, workers, and political activists united in demonstrations, and after the barricades came down, marched with improvised weapons against police brutality and made a noteworthy call for change. There is a political urgency to question Turkey’s 1968 if the current authoritarian political climate in Turkey is to be confronted.

I intend this book to serve as a reminder for the deeper roots of authoritarianism, which keeps haunting Turkey especially after the suppression of the Gezi Park movement in the summer of 2013. Despite the demilitarization of the political sphere in the last ten years, it is hard to say that Turkey’s political culture has been profoundly transformed. Disputes on demilitarization reached a dramatic climax in 2012 with the trial of army officers in civil court, who were accused of underpinning civilian governmental control in 2003, including former top commanders, such as İlker Başbuğ, Turkey’s military chief of the period, and several other officers and journal-

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