German Literature Scholarship on Yade Kara Research Paper

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German Literature

Scholarship on Yade Kara and Emine Sevgi Ozdamar

Scholarship on Yade Kara

Scholarship on Yade Kara has repeatedly placed great emphasis on the author's predilection for themes such as identity construction, cultural identity, and historical specificity. The latter is of particular appeal in that it situates Kara's novels as a useful rubric through which to examine German life in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Kara's works also address the mass immigration of the 1960s, the picaresque novel, and the bildungsroman coming-of-age narrative structure. Although studies of Kara's works tend to repeatedly stress these themes, this paper elucidates some of the distinctions between emphases in Kara scholarship.

The theme of identity construction is perhaps the foremost theme in Kara's literature. In her study of Kara, Sandra Vlasta links identity construction and migration as being inextricably linked in Kara's works (as well as those of Imran Ayata and Feridun Zaimogglu.)Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Research Paper on German Literature Scholarship on Yade Kara and Assignment

Vlasta argues that Kara's works "represent a hybrid society, subversion of the 'guest-worker' cliche, identifications of self and others [and] finally the mixing of languages and of global spaces." It is no accident that Hasan Kazan, the 19-year-old protagonist of Kara's first novel Selam Berlin, is at a formative age in which he is engaged in the process of becoming an adult. Vlasta's perceptive descriptor of a "hybrid society" aptly describes the bifurcated cultural landscape of Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Kazan's attempt to come of age during such a transitional cultural period forms perhaps the basis for the novel. By characterizing the book as falling within the taxonomy of the Bildungsroman (coming-of-age) novel, Vlasta implicitly aligns the novel with innumerable coming-of-age tales from other cultures. However, although the reviewer provides a lucid explication of certain salient themes, it would have perhaps been productive to specifically compare how Kara's novels compare with similarly-themed novels (or media texts) from other cultures. For example, Vlasta's reading of Kara's novel immediately calls to mind American novels such as Huckleberry Finn, in which the protagonist is similarly caught within a transitional society, both ideologically and geographically. The first-person structure that Karakas sees as integral to the text also invites comparison with novels from other cultures.

The work of Alper Keles similarly places great emphasis on the coming-of-age structure in Kara's work, although Keles takes the added initiative of questioning whether Kazan relies excessively on the assistance of others.

This represents an important question with vast implications; questioning whether Kazan does not assume sufficient responsibility for his actions loosens the cultural critique that Vlasta finds at the heart of the book (it should be noted that Kuruyazici also considers this a foremost trope of the text), and universalizes the work as being a more generic tale of the necessity for young adults to behave in an autonomous way.

Keles' reading of the book does raise the question of how Vlasta views identity construction, and indeed how this can be achieved if one is over-reliant on assistance from others.

Scholarship on Yade Kara reveals a consensus that identity construction is at the heart of her novels. However, a contentious issue that develops concerns whether the protagonist suffers from his dual German-Turkish heritage. Jill Twark argues that the protagonist of Selam Berlin does not suffer from his dual cultural heritage, while Maria Stehle takes the added step of comparing Selam Berlin with the film Kurz und schmerzlos, a 1998 film directed by Fatih Akin that similarly concerns the identity construction of German-Turkish youths.

Given the adversity faced by Kazan, this is a surprising conclusion and one must wonder whether Twark's reading is colored by the retrospective perspective that the novel (and unavoidably, the reader as well) takes toward the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In discussing the cultural identity issues at work in Kara's novels, scholars have recently addressed the discrimination that manifests between German and Turkish cultures. In his study "Three Generations of Turkish Filmmakers in Germany: Three Different Narratives," at Cox sees Kara's works as reflecting themes of cultural discrimination that have surfaced in recent German-Turkish films:

"German directors were the first to provide portrayals of immigrants in Germany…the third generation filmmakers are now no longer the silenced and disadvantaged members of the host society; instead, they have been active agents who are qualified, skilled, educated and thus self-confident."

Cox's outline traces a shift from filmmakers like Rainer Werner Fassbinder in the 1960s and 1970s to the themes found in current cinema and novels like those of Kara. Where Fassbinder portrayed the Turks as culturally subordinate and submissive, Cox argues that the German-Turkish characters in the third-generation works are more combative and assertive. By reading Kara's novels dialogically, Cox adds a temporally discursive dimension to Kara's works that compares the novel with texts from authors of prior time periods.

The picaresque novel is another theme that has surfaced in scholarship of Kara. Cornelia Geisser sees Selam Berlin as a travelogue that paints vivid portrayals of places like Kantstrasse, Stuttgart, Savignyplatz, and Adalbertstrasse.

Her approach deemphasizes the coming-of-age theme emphasized by the majority of Kara scholars, although it introduces geographical specificity that is absent in other analyses. Similarly, Karin Lornsen sees Selam Berlin as engaging in a burgeoning field of spatially "transgressive" texts that destabilize tradional dichotomies involving culture and geography.

The picaresque form also informs Aile Esen reading of Selam Berlin as focused on the theme of travel; however, Esen's study differs from those of other scholars in that it does not collapse the boundaries and create the 'hybrid' culture that the Lornsen or Geisser see in Kara's text.

Scholarship on Emine Sevgi Ozdamar

Scholarship on Emine Sevgi Ozdamar has centered around themes of cultural displacement, cultural assimilation, discrimination by Germans toward Turks, and German modernization. In his comprehensive overview of literature dealing with Turkish assimilation within German culture, Tom Cheesman sees Ozdamar as participating in a shift from a "literature of displacement to one of settlement."

Accordingly, he sees Ozdamar as progressive and culturally optimistic, despite the fact that the author wrote at a time of harsh racial discrimination by German regarding Turks. Although there exists some dissension with regard to the dichotomy addressed by Cheesman, the themes of displacement and settlement manifest repeatedly in scholarship dealing with Ozdamar.

In their survey of portrayals of Turks in German society, David Horrocks and Eva Kolinsky argue (with regard to one of Ozdamar's books) that the "duality of identity and culture is the theme of this book."

The inseparability of identity and culture is regarded as a truism of cultural theory, and the works of Ozdamar held elucidate the manner in which one's identity -- their entire way of perceiving the workd -- is formed through the interplay between oneself and the society in which they exist.

Corresponding with the theme elucidated by Cheesman is one of East-West discrimination. Although Turks live in Germany, because of their heritage they are often branded as belonging to Asia. Moreover, the Asia association carries with it pejorative notions of the "Orient," as they are labeled as archaic, foreign Muslims rather than German Christians. This recalls the groundbreaking work by Edward Said concerning the demeaning attitude held by Westerners toward those from Asia. Referring to Turks as "Orientals" not only denies them their German identity but also reinforces a German-centric perspective toward the world that precludes cultural assimilation. It is this fusing of a theretofore irreparable discord between German and Turkish cultures that many scholars position as Ozdamar's foremost theme. Martin Ebel falls victim to this tendency in his own reading of the author herself; he sees Ozdamar as Turkish, but in a pejorative way whereby she is a Muslim fundamentalist rather than a Christian.

Although such overt discrimination is unpopular Auffermann asserts that the issue of Ozdamar's ethnicity may be overdetermined in analyses of the author.

To this end, there is, unfortunately, a long-standing prevailing animosity toward accepting a work by a Turk as a German text.

According to Margrit Frolich, the blind emphasis on Ozdamar's Turkish ethnicity has actually caused scholars to disregard the specifics of her biography.

Indeed, Frolich argues that Ozdamar has actually lived in Germany longer than Turkey, having emigrated roughly at the age of 20. As such, Frolich asserts that it is not unreasonable to assume that Ozdamar is more culturally versed in German culture than the majority of German natives. Whether or not the author is more knowledgeable regarding German culture than most natives, Frolich effectively dispels the notion that Ozdamar is unqualified to adopt the values of German culture.

Leslie a. Adelson argues that Ozdamar's works foreground German cultural anxieties, stating that her works contain:

"affective dimensions…which in varying configurations reflect[s] German guilt, shame, or resentment about the Nazi past, German fears of migration, Turkish fears of victimization, national taboos in both countries, and Turkish perceptions of German fantasies."

Adelson identification of a number of politically grounded themes relating to issues of cultural identification lends credence to the conception that Ozdamar is indeed a politically… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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