CATS IN TURKISH LITERATURE

A Conversation with

Roberta Micallef, Boston University
Ceyhun Arslan, Harvard University
Sylvia Wing Önder, Georgetown University

Saturday, November 19, 2016 | 5:30 p.m.
GSU Auditorium, Boston University
775 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston

Cats have inspired Turkish writers, poets and artists for centuries – including Tombili, who now has a statue representing him in Istanbul, the street cats gracing the silver screen in documentary films, and the noble Angora and Van breeds. Turkish literature is replete with stories and poems about cats or written with the voice of a cat. This literary conversation will examine the role of cats in Turkish literature, including those portrayed in The Bastard of Istanbul, a novel by Elif Shafak, as well as poetry by Namık Kemal and Orhan Veli. The participants in the conversation will touch upon the topic generally and then specifically address particular texts, poets or authors.

Roberta Micallef, Boston University “THE RULING CAT”

Roberta Micallef is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Middle Eastern Literatures and Women Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is particularly interested in the intersection of the arts, history, and politics. She has published numerous articles on Turkish and Central Asian literature. She co-edited a volume on Persianate travel narratives titled, On the Wonders of Land and Sea: Persianate Travel Narratives, (2013). She is currently working on two projects: an edited anthology of global travel narratives, and Turkish women’s first person narratives capturing their writing from the early days of the Republic to the present.

Ceyhun Arslan, Harvard University “THE POET CAT”

Ceyhun Arslan is completing his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations with two secondary fields, one in Comparative Literature and another in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. He works on Arabic and Turkish literary modernity of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He has written on neoclassical Arabic poetry, world literature, and theories of diaspora.

Sylvia Wing Önder, Georgetown University, “THE POLITICAL CAT”

Sylvia Wing Önder is Teaching Professor in the Division of Eastern Mediterranean Languages (Turkish) and in the Department of Anthropology at Georgetown University. Dr. Önder’s research topics include Medical Anthropology and Contemporary Turkish Culture. Her PhD, in Interdisciplinary Turkish Culture, is from The Ohio State University, 1998. Her MA in Folklore and Folklife (1991) and her BA in International Relations (1986) are both from the University of Pennsylvania. Her book, We Have No Microbes Here: Healing Practices in a Turkish Black Sea Village, came out in May of 2007 in the Medical Anthropology Series of Carolina Academic Press.


Co-presented with
Boston University
Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground
World Languages and Literatures
The Institute for the Study of Muslim Cultures and Civilizations
The Middle East and North Africa Studies Program