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David Selim Sayers

  • Near Eastern Studies
Position: Graduate Student
Title: E.T.D.C.C. graduate student
Office: Jones Hall

MA (Turkish Literature), Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey
BA (Theological and Religious Studies), University of Cambridge, UK
Abitur, Gymnasium Christianeum, Hamburg, Germany
David Selim Sayers was born in 1978 in London to a Turkish mother and a British father. During his multilingual and multicultural upbringing and education, he went to high school in Germany, received his BA in Britain, his MA in Turkey, and is now completing his PhD dissertation at Princeton in the United States. Apart from these countries, he has lived or stayed extensively in Sweden, China, and Belgium. While English, German, and Turkish are his “mother tongues”, he has also studied Ottoman Turkish, Farsi, French, Latin, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.
David’s studies focus on Ottoman history and literature; in particular, he is an expert on Ottoman prose literature prior to Western influence. His MA thesis, on the Tıflî Stories, direct predecessors of the Ottoman novel, is being published as a book by Bilgi University Press, Turkey’s foremost academic publishing house, in 2012. He was on the founding editorial staff of the Journal of Turkish Literature, published by Syracuse University Press, the only English-language academic journal devoted in its entirety to this subject, and continues to regularly contribute articles and reviews. His PhD dissertation deals with the Mekr-i Zenan, a genre of fiction exploring the ostensibly guileful nature of women. While similar genres in Near Eastern languages such as Arabic and Persian have been known to scholarship, David’s work is the first to put the Ottoman continuation of this tradition on the scholarly map.

David has maintained an active sideline in the media, especially writing, television, and film studies. From 2000 to 2002, he was a TV producer and presenter for CNN Türk, the Turkish subsidiary of the international news channel. During roughly the same time period, he worked as a DJ for various Turkish radio stations. In 2004, he was cast to appear in a Turkish horror B-movie, while in 2006, he wrote a weekly column for Sabah, a major Turkish daily newspaper. At Princeton, he has organized film series highlighting Soviet and Japanese cinema, as well as being appointed Teaching Assistant for the “American Cinema” course offered by the Department of English. David is also the writer of an (as yet unpublished) novel.