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Sahbaz, Taylan (2019) Between Content and Form: The Models of Representation in Kurdish Poetry of Turkish. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is a theoretical study of models of representation marking the political content, language uses and aesthetics of Kurdish literary writing in Turkish language; it aims to offer a situated and historicised analysis to help address current questions about its status, political meaning and aesthetic value. The focus is on the poetry of three prominent post 1980s contemporary Turkish poets, Murathan Mungan, Bejan Matur and Yılmaz Odabaşı. The study is motivated by dialectical approaches to literature and the argument is structured around content, language uses and form to provide an overview which pays due attention to the political as well as aesthetic dimension of these poetries. After the background provided, the second chapter explores the literary articulations of ideas about the self and community in the selected poetries and illuminates, through close engagement with texts and comparison with Kurdish poets of the previous generation, the extent to which they are necessarily political and oppositional. It contends that, while these poets could be thought of as inscribing Kurdish identity in particular respects, the plurality of discourses present and connections to Turkish-language literary alterity suggest that their collaborative political models have an impact for the entirety of the society in Turkey: Turkish literature is Kurdish too. The third chapter demonstrates the correlation between the political pluralism of these poetries and the diversity of specific uses of Turkish effected in each, ranging from celebration in Mungan to driving language to its bare minimum in Matur’s poetries. Based on a comparison with mainstream Turkish poets, the thesis argues that the presence of artistic connections with the literary mainstream also highlights the aesthetical determination of the content of their work; literature as a form of representation belongs to language, these poetries to Turkish-language literature. In Chapter 4 the analysis of the interaction of the content and form (the aesthetic dimension) focuses on the difference between the implied and intended meaning and value of these texts. The comparison with the poetries of present-day Kurdish poets, who claim this term for themselves, reveals the distinct aestheticism moderating the liberal humanist rendition of Kurdish identity inscription; what is represented is the implied Kurdish self rather than content. The thesis identifies the plurality of aesthetic positions defining the representations of self and the world as the context defining their value for Turkish and Kurdish literatures in general and for understanding the political dimension of literature in particular. The conclusion argues that these poets have brought these literatures closer together as parts of world literature, thereby also highlighting the distinct Kurdish presence in the development of its aesthetics.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Georgios Dedes, Karima Laachir and Stefan Sperl
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2023 16:36

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