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    Exploratory Workshop to be held on May 23-24, 2009 at the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung Berlin

    supported by the European Science Foundation

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Group I

Structures & Concepts of Discourses


I Structures and concepts of discourses

II Traditions and conceptualizations

III The dynamics of identity production





This group discusses conceptual and structural terminology commonly used in the description of MEL, be they of European origin or indigenous. 


It looks at Western genre and periodization terminology, the history and scope of meaning of relevant concepts and terms[1] as well as their borrowings into, or calquing[2] in, Middle Eastern meta-languages of literary studies and criticism. What, e.g., is / which phenomena are meant by modernism in a Western context, and what when talking about MEL, and what is ḥad
ātha as compared to modernism? What is an author, what a writer – the same as a muʾallif, kātib, yazar, nevisande, or adīb? How can we define a köşe yazarı, and does s/he write literature? (If not, so what? – aren’t köşe yazıları something more like journalism…?) When did a term such as adabiyyāt emerge, and how did edebiyât come to mean literature (if it does…)? The group also examines the internal relations and interaction of genre concepts, periodization and structural terminology within indigenous systems: how, e.g., did postmodernism, once transferred into the Turkish context, come to take on a distinctive Turkish meaning and begin to live a ‘life of its own’, and why was/is that so? And: Are terms like postmodernism in use all over the Middle East, or are there differences between countries and/or regions? Do, e.g., histories of contemporary literature in the Islamic Republic of Iran identify a postmodern period in the same way as Turkish, and many Arab, critics do for the literatures of their countries?
The group will draw an inventory of terms and concepts of hermeneutical relevance, but also of structures (esp. commonly used categorical dichotomies such as individual vs. society) and narratives (e.g. the birth – death – rebirth pattern, the maturation narrative, etc.) and discuss also their implications (e.g., with regard to the ‘starting point’ of modern MELs, the assumption of an ‘evolutional’ time-lag, the ‘universality’ or ‘non-universality’ of global periods, etc.).
Main purpose: become clear about terminology used and the scope of aspects it covers; at the same time identify the aspects which are overlooked because of the use of Western terminology.

(Why do we use this terminology? => groups II “conceptualizations”, III “identity procuduction”)

(What happens within MEL under dominant discourses? => group III)




[1] Such as ‘literature’, ‘national literature’, ‘novel’, ‘short story’, ‘повесть’, ‘fiction’, ‘rep­resenta­tion’; ‘renaissance, ‘enlightenment’, ‘romanticism’, ‘realism’, ‘modernism/mod­ernity’, ‘post­mod­ernism/postmodernity’, adab, nahḍa, ḥassāsiyya jadīda, ‘postcolonial’, ‘hybrid’, ‘glob­alization’, …

[2] Such as riwāya for ‘novel’, hikâye for ‘short story’, madhhab al-ḥaqāʾiq and later wāqiʿiyya for ‘realism’, adab multazim for ‘littérature engagée’, ...