Hellenic Studies Announcements, August 2005
<Posted on 08/19/2005 10:07>
Eleftheria Arapoglou (Friends of the Library Research Grant Winner 2005-2006)
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Post Doctoral Researcher and Adjunct Faculty,
School of English,
American Literature and Culture Department
Firestone Library, West Room, 2nd Floor
This is a lunch presentation, so bring a sandwich and enjoy!
This presentation will outline the findings and conclusions of research conducted using the Rare Books and Special Collections of the Princeton University Library as well as Firestone Library. More specifically, this discussion will address how the study of the Atlantis Collection, the Diamantides Collection, and the Collection of Modern Greek Pamphlets, Ephemera, Clippings on Greece and Southeastern Europe shed light on important aspects of the life and work of Demetra Vaka Brown.
Demetra Vaka Brown (Prinkipo1877-Chicago 1946) belonged to the cosmopolitan middle class of Istanbul and was one of the first Greek immigrant women who joined American mainstream culture and society. After her wedding to author Kenneth Brown, she worked for the American Press and was eventually considered an authority on the subjects of oriental women and also on the Eastern Question. She worked as a journalist and foreign correspondent in the U.S.A. and the Balkans, especially in Ottoman Turkey. Her 14 books were in print until the 1930's and were translated in several European languages.
This presentation will evolve along two axes, focusing first on two works by Demetra Vaka Brown: her travel narrative entitled The Heart of the Balkans (1917) and the political testimony In the Heart of German Intrigue (1918). More specifically, the talk will present the two texts as cultural narratives with a specific ideological function in the construction of a modern Greek nation-state and national identity. The utilization of the above mentioned Princeton University Library collections has indicated that the specific works yield important insights into modern Greek nationalism as a territorial ideology that implicates the modern Greek and Turkish nation states as well as the countries in the Balkan region.
Secondly, specific attention will be directed towards Demetra Vaka Brown's novels that deal with life in the Orient, such as Haremlik (1909) and Unveiled Ladies of Stamboul (1923). This study of the historical records, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, newsletters, and other ephemera on the turn-of-the-century period during which Vaka Brown was working as a U.S. correspondent to the East raises vexing questions that relate to the conflicted nature of the author's allegiances. Of note, the Princeton University Library holdings in question have facilitated the articulation of a nuanced historical and cultural reading of the author's texts and allowed an indepth probe into the alternative responses Vaka Brown's narratives offer to the "Scaffoldings" of nationalism and cultural hegemony. Ultimately, it is believed that this investigation into the way in which Vaka Brown represented the East problematizes the canonical stereotypes of Western "Oriental" literature and reframes the historical tensions between the culture of the West and that of the East.