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


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Middle Eastern Studies. In order to broaden the scope of this course, students, interested in other societal and cultural fields, or from other disciplines, are encouraged to participate in the seminar. The wider the range of topics, the richer the course will be. So, if you are NOT a student of the MA Middle Eastern Studies and interested in this course, please, contact the student advisor, Dr. Nicole van Os, or the instructor Dr. P. de Bruijn, preferably prior to registration.

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


“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”. Erdağ Göknar sees the novel in Turkey as a “vehicle of modernisation that reveals Ottoman and Turkish experience as human experience” (“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). 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. If possible, this depends on the fields of interest of the students participating, an comparison between Turkish societal and narrative culture and others could be incorporated. 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 and understanding of Turkish history and culture and Turkey’s relation to Europe, viewed against its transition from the multi-ethnic Ottoman state to a nation state.

  • 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: 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 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

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). It is also unacceptable for students to reuse portions of texts they had previously authored and have already received academic credit for on this or other courses. In such cases, students are welcome to self-cite so as to minimise overlap between prior and new work.

Students must submit their assignment(s) to the blackboard through turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
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 this course is formed by the weighted average.

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Final paper

The deadline for the final paper is Monday, 7 January 2019, 9.00 AM.

Late submissions of the final version will result in a deduction of paper grades as follows: 1-24 hs late = -0.5; 24-48 hs late = -1.0; 48-72 hs late = -1.5; 72-96 hs late = -2.0. Submissions more than 96 hours late, including weekends, will receive a failing grade, in casu a 1.0 for this partial assessment.


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. In that case the convenor of the course may decide to assign a (new) topic. The deadline for this version will be determined in consultation. Missing a presentation or late submissions of the assignments result in a 1 for the respective parts of the assessment. Resits for insufficient presentations nor for assignments are possible.

Exam review

Feedback will be supplied primarily through Blackboard. 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 “USIS-Actnbr.”. More information on uSis is available in Dutch and English.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


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.