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Reyhan Tutumlu

Women Writers in Anthologies and Literature Textbooks


This paper aims to discuss and answer questions such as “what is a canon?” “is there a canon in Turkish literature?” “where do women writers stand in the canon?”, “is there a women writers’ canon in Turkish literature?”

One of the fundamental resources that the theoretical foundations of this paper have is Gregory Jusdanis’s Belated Modernity and Aesthetic Culture: Inventing National Literature (Theory and History of Literature) (1991). Jusdanis underlines in his book the importance of coursebooks and anthologies in the constitution of a national canon. In this paper, my aim is to chart anthologies and literature coursebooks to evaluate whether women poets and writers are given space.

I will try to answer questions such as “who as women writers are given space in anthologies and coursebooks?”, “what is the percentage of women writers?” “who are given priority and why?”, “who are omitted and why?”. I will try to find an estimate of the number of women writers in Turkey. A recent book, Encylopedia of Literary Writers From Tanzimat to Contemporary Times records 278 women in total, poets and writers. In our project we obtained a higher estimate of 400. This will give me an initial chance to locate women writers omitted from the anthologies.

As a conclusion, the richness of women’s writing in Turkey and the difficulties therein that prevent their expressing themselves will be emphasised and the potential role of critics in such a situation will be discussed.

Ask, September 2012

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