Talk: “Games ‘They’ Play, Games Played on ‘Us’: A Comparative Approach to Fantasies of Espionage in British and Turkish Literatures,” Doruk Tatar (University at Buffalo), A-130, 4:40PM October 12 (EN)

Dear Colleagues and Students,

On Thursday, October 12, Doruk Tatar from the University at Buffalo will give the following talk, as part of the Center for Turkish Literature Speaker Series.

Games ‘They’ Play, Games Played On ‘Us’:
A Comparative Approach To Fantasies Of Espionage In British And Turkish Literatures

Doruk Tatar is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University at Buffalo. His interests fall within political theory, psychoanalysis, British spy fiction, twentieth century Turkish literature, and contemporary world literature. He is currently working on his dissertation, which focuses on British spy fiction and conspiracy narratives in modern Turkish literature as two cases of nostalgia for empire.

The talk will be in English and take place in A-130 at 16:40. Refreshments will be available.

This talk will revolve around the ‘Great Game’ [Büyük Oyun], a term that is widely used in the contemporary conspiracy talks and paranoid analyses in Turkey. I argue that the term has roots in the Turkish intellectual, cultural, and literary history, which can be traced back to the final days of the Ottoman Empire. Throughout this presentation, I will focus on Turkish nationalist-conservative authors and intellectuals, who searched for a cultural and aesthetic horizon that would compensate the loss of empire. Though the ‘Great Game’ often refers to espionage struggle or covert war for world domination; the use of ‘game’ disturbs the semantic stability of the concept. The term was invented by British colonial officers in the first half of the 1800s and popularized by Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel, Kim in the early 20th century. As many scholars suggest, the ‘Great Game’ and fictional texts revolving around it, in the British context, functioned initially as re-energizing myths for an empire in crisis and later on as compensatory tales of the loss of an empire. The term evokes not only extremely high stakes as the ‘Great Game’s ultimate goal is world domination; but also disinterested enjoyment that derives from the act of playing the game of espionage. Yet, once translated into Turkish context, the concept of game acquires negative connotations due to the fact that the Ottoman Empire found itself to be the ‘playground’ and its subjects to be the ‘plaything’ of Western forces, i.e. the players of the ‘Great Game’, in the World War I, or the Great War. This presentation will trace the theoretical work on the ‘Great Game’ and share some preliminary findings on the pertinent forms of paranoid vision and conspiracist views in the works of Turkish authors and intellectuals in the 20th century.