Ph.D. Student Sayers Publishes Book
David Selim Sayers, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, has published a book, Tıflî Hikâyeleri, with Bilgi University Press. The book is a study of “Tıflî Stories,” a barely explored genre of prose fiction produced in the Ottoman empire from the late eighteenth to the late twentieth century and often regarded as a major inspiration for the Ottoman and Turkish novel.
The book serves two purposes: first, it offers a literary analysis of the stories, which are particularly interesting because they are a form of “realist” fiction produced by Ottoman writers prior to the influence of Westernization and Western notions of literary realism.
Second, the book maps each story onto its historical context, demonstrating how changes in the genre go hand in hand with the transformation of Ottoman and, subsequently, Turkish society across the last two centuries. Striking changes include a shift in sexual mores from traditional “man-boy” relationships to Western-influenced “boy-girl” relationships and the increasing role played by monetary concerns in Ottoman subjects’ thinking as the empire's fortunes faded.
Containing 150 pages of analysis and 300 pages of transliterations, this is the first book-length academic study of the genre, and the first work to enable widespread access to the Ottoman part of the corpus for contemporary audiences and scholars alike.