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Trans(lating) Lexicons of Queerness in Ottoman-Turkish
Seldom do we see scholarly works that juxtapose translation studies, transgender studies, and Ottoman-Turkish literature. In other words, the specific linguistic strategies writers used to depict trans existence in Ottoman-Turkish remains an overlooked area within the broader discipline of Ottoman-Turkish literature. This paper is about trans(lating) lexicons of queerness in early modern Turkish. Concomitantly, I look at three censured pieces produced by three canonical male writers: Ahmed Mithat Efendi’s Dürdane Hanım (Mrs. Durdane, 1882), Ömer Seyfettin’s Eleğimsağma (Rainbow, 1917), and Osman Cemal Kaygılı’s Bir Garibe-I Hilkat (A Freak of Nature, 1923). The commonality between these works is that they include transgender and genderqueer protagonists, use (proto)queer lexicon that is not bound by pre-defined sexual identity categories, and they ultimately play with the idea of sexuality and textuality. To this end, my paper has three main goals: first, to investigate how the words “transgender” and “queer” were expressed grammatically and lexically in late Ottoman-Turkish. Second, to understand how technologies of marginalization operated on a linguistic level alongside the canonization of Turkish literature at the turn of the century. Third, to juxtapose two seemingly irrelevant disciplines—namely transgender studies and Ottoman-Turkish literature—in order to foster a nouvelle and interdisciplinary scholarly debate about how queer thinking can help us understand Ottoman-Turkish literature today.
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All Middle East
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