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Narratives that Matter: Literature, Film and Television Drama in Turkey


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies. Please, contact the student advisor or the instructor Dr. P. de Bruijn prior to registration for permission if you are interested in taking this course but NOT a student of the above-mentioned MA programme. Non MA Middle Eastern Studies' students will hear at the latest on September 8 whether or not they will be able to take the course and should think of an alternative in time.

Students with little or no knowledge on the modern history of Turkey, should read before the start of the course: Erik Jan Zürcher, Turkey. A Modern History, London, I.B. Tauris, 2017.


As Erdağ Göknar states in “The novel in Turkish: narrative tradition to Nobel prize,” The Cambridge History of Turkey, Reşat Kasaba ed, Cambridge, Cambridge University press, 2008, pp. 472-503: “There is perhaps no better anthropological or aesthetic artefact with which to read social change, to gauge resistance and to trace the scars of history and ideology on local populations than the novel”. He sees the novel in Turkey as a “vehicle of modernisation that reveals Ottoman and Turkish experience as human experience” (p. 476 of the same article) Where the novel was a ‘vehicle of modernisation’ during the first half of the 20th century in Turkey, this role passed on to film during the second half of the twentieth century and to television drama more recently. This course wants to explore exactly this shift in focus towards visual media in the context of Turkish culture and its meaning for contemporary Turkish society (from 1900 (1850) onwards). To achieve this, Turkish cultural products will be positioned within their societal context and the way they relate to Turkish society will be examined. This means, studying primary source materials such as novels, poetry, films, television series, that matter: those books, films and television series that show us political developments in Turkish society and/or constitute symbols for societal change. In addition, secondary source material on political, societal and historical developments in contemporary Turkey will be used. This seminar will start with a few introductory lectures about methodology and examples of Turkish cultural production that matters. Subsequently, students will read/view primary and secondary source material, present this to each other and prepare a publishable blog or vlog on it. Finally, all students choose a topic for themselves on which they write their final paper and give a presentation.

Course objectives

The objectives of this course are:

  • To deepen knowledge on the interaction between Turkish society and culture.

  • To improve writing skills by practicing with different textual media, blogs/vlogs and academic output.

  • To improve presentational skills

  • To improve collaboration skills.



Mode of instruction

  • Seminar
    Attendance and participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

Total course load: 280 hours EC x 28 hours= hours

  • Lectures: 26 hours

  • Study of source material: primary sources 40 hours, secondary 80 hours

  • Assignment(s): 32 hours

  • Research and final paper: 102 hours

Assessment method


  • Attendance

  • Assignments related to classes

  • Presentation on primary and secondary source material

  • Presentation of own research

  • Midterm: blog/vlog

  • Final paper


  • Attendance 2%

  • Assignments related to classes 3%

  • Presentation on primary and secondary source material: 10%

  • Presentation of own research: 10%

  • Midterm: blog/vlog: 25%

  • Final paper: 50%

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average. To pass the course, the weighted average should be 5.50 or higher.


For both an insufficient Midterm blog/vlog or an insufficient final paper, provided that the total weighted average is insufficient (5.49 or lower), a resit is offered. Resits for insufficient presentations or presentations that are not held will not be held. Presentations that are not held will be marked by a 1.
There are no resits for assignments. Assignments that are not submitted before the deadline will be marked by a 1.

Exam review

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Announcements

  • Course schedule

  • Course material

  • Overview of grading

Reading list

Information on the primary and secondary sources used in the course will be supplied through Blackboard. Those with a gap in their knowledge on the modern history of Turkey, should read before the start of the course: Erik Jan Zürcher, Turkey. A Modern History, London, I.B. Tauris, 2017.


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs


Petra de Bruijn


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).