Transnational Perspectives on the 19th and 20th Century Women's Writing

By Erkol, Çimen Günay | Journal of Research in Gender Studies, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Transnational Perspectives on the 19th and 20th Century Women's Writing


Erkol, Çimen Günay, Journal of Research in Gender Studies


Women's Library and Information Center Foundation

Istanbul, 27-29 September 2012

The Transnational Perspectives on the 19th and 20th century Women 's Writing Workshop took place in the historical building of the "Women's Library and Information Center Foundation." The theoretical starting point of the symposium was transnationalism, which favors historical and experiencebased relations over nationalist, ethnic, and cultural divisions. The workshop aimed to enliven the dialogue between texts published by women writers of different origins with a comparative look at women's writing.

The transnational movement spread across borders, opening a door to the disintegration of colonial and orientalist discourse. This discourse was shown to contain homogenous and monolithic fictions with strong influence on gender order, and also on solid constructions such as nation, ethnicity, and class. Since the symposium combined the closing of the project "Women Writers in Turkey" and the opening of the collaboration with COST Action "Women Writers in History," transnational connections between the writers of 19th and 20th centuries, which witnessed an acceleration in the interaction of the international women's movement and women's writing, was the main point of discussion.

The workshop started with Canan Ergin and Suzan van Dijk's opening speeches. It was followed Jale Parla' s presentation, titled as 'Bodiless Voice, Echo." The next keynote speaker, Nüket Esen's presentation was on Fatma Aliye and her writing experience as a woman. The last keynote speaker of the first day of the workshop was Nora Seni. Her presentaion was on the clothing habits and the notion of fashion in the times of Fatma Aliye.

The first day of the workshop had the mutual theme of "absence:" Absence of women writers from the stage of history. While Senem Timuroglu shared information on 19th century Ottoman women writers, Guisen Çulhaoglu discussed the limited information on these writers and highlighted the reasons behind the limited information on Ottoman women poets. One of the main conclusions of her presentation was that it was impossible for the researchers to have a clear picture of the literature of the time without getting detailed information on women writers as well. Reyhan Tutumlu approached the issue through the 20th century anthologies and textbooks and pointed at the limited information on women writers in these books. Women writers' approach to the historical and social conditions of their time was also one of the discussions points. While EHf Ekin Akçit discussed women's roles in village institutes through the writings of Mualla Eyüboglu, Tülin Ural discussed the relationship between women writers and the strongest ideology of the first half of the century: nationalism. The panels of the first day ended with an important example of the "absence of women writers:" Hazal Halavut discussed the absence of Zabel Yaseyan, an Armenian writer, who penned her works in the 20th century, from canons or the dominant narratives of the time.

The second day of the workshop started with the keynote speaker, Ayçe Durakbaçats presentation on Halide Edip Adivar. On the second day of the workshop the transnational connections between Balkan women writers was discussed through COST Action. Amelia Sanz explained how COST action traces 19th century European women writers' voices by passing beyond the limits of nations, canons and printed culture. …

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