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Atas, Ahmet (2023) Resistance, Loss and Grief: The Implications of Melancholy in Modern Kurdish Novels. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study aims to highlight the specific uses motifs of loss, grief and melancholy are put to by modern Kurdish novelists of Turkey writing in Kurdish. It draws upon perspectives on mourning and melancholy for a nuanced understanding of the Kurdish novel to contribute to the emerging field of Kurdish literary studies. Subject to specific focus is how melancholic subjectivity is represented and its intersections with the political, social and cultural reality. To this end, it examines four novels: Mehmed Uzun’s Siya Evînê, İbrahim Seydo Aydoğan’s Reş û Spî and Firat Cewerî’s Ez ê Yekî Bikujim and Lehî. Alternating between the individual’s psychology and the encompassing socio-political reality, these novels offer insights essential to understanding the authentic locale of the Kurdish melancholic subjectivity and its iterations in different novel types, including, respectively, historical, contemporary, crime and metafiction. The study evidences a variegated use by Kurdish novelists: melancholy as an expression of devotion to the ideal of a free homeland and a stubborn attachment to a lost love, as grief for a loved one lost in political struggle, as the source of a criminal act as well as an endless grief for a lost female “honour” in a community beset by patriarchal cultural norms and values. Following an introductory assessment of readings of melancholy in the Kurdish novel, the study presents an overview of the development of the modern Kurdish novel; it identifies a parallel between the engagement of Kurdish novelists with genuinely realist and modern narrative forms from the mid-1980s and the strategy to process the motif of loss in the framework of melancholic subjectivity, despite its political mediations. The second chapter provides an account of how the motif of melancholy is utilized to represent insistence upon the ideal of a free homeland as well as a love-melancholy in Siya Evînê. The following chapter elicits the representation of grief for the loss of a loved one killed in the resistance struggle as the melancholic suffering of the bereaved in Reş û Spî. The final chapter presents the violent, self-destructive as well as constructive forms of melancholy in Ez ê Yekî Bikujim and Lehî, demonstrating how melancholy is appropriated as a multi-functional literary device by modern Kurdish novelists to articulate a broad spectrum of subjectivities often mediated by contexts of Kurdish political reality.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Georgios Dedes, Keya Anjaria and Stephen Dodd
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2023 15:49

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