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Translating and Publishing Turkish Literature in the Anglosphere

Halide Edib’s library at Istanbul University

This two-day hybrid symposium was organized by Özlem Berk Albachten and Daniela la Penna and is supported by the British Academy.

It will take place from 18-19 January 2024 at the University of Reading and online. Day 1 (18 January) will be hybrid and Day 2 (19 January) will be online-only. The full programme for the symposium is below.

  • For online attendance (5-7pm) on the 18 January, please register here*
  • For in-person attendance (5-7pm) on the 18 January in Room 125, Edith Morley Building, University of Reading Whiteknights Campus, please register by emailing your full name and any access requirements to cbcp@reading.ac.uk
  • For online attendance (1-6pm) on the 19 January, please register here*

(*If the registration form does not open up in your internet browser, clearing your cache may get around this problem. Instructions on how to do this are here. Alternatively, you can try another browser such as Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. If the problem persists, please email cbcp@reading.ac.uk)

The symposium will bring together academics, translators, editors, and literary agents to discuss issues concerning translating and publishing Turkish literary works in the English-speaking world from a variety of perspectives.

Keynote speakers include Professor Maureen Freely speaking about her over 20 years of experience as a translator between English and Turkish and Professor Aron Aji on translating Turkish “National Classics” for a present-minded market and readership. 

Contributors will discuss the presence of Turkish literature in the English language (Arzu Akbatur) and the reception of Turkish fiction in the Anglophone world (Duygu Tekgül). Speakers will also offer perspectives of literary agents (Amy Spangler) and independent publishers (Nefise Kahraman) in bringing Turkish literary works into English.

Other talks will discuss the presence of Turkish literature (Arzu Akbatur) and the reception of Turkish fiction in the Anglophone world (Duygu Tekgül)

Thursday, 18 January

Location: Online & Room 125 Edith Morley Building, University of Reading Whiteknights campus

17.00 -17.15 Welcome

17:15 -18:15 Keynote 1: Professor Maureen Freely (University of Warwick): Translating the landscape: An overview of 20 years spent traveling between Turkish and English
(Chair: Özlem Berk Albachten)

Friday 19 January

Location: Online only

14:00 – 14:15 Welcome

14:15 – 14:45 Özlem Berk Albachten (Boğaziçi University): Turkish Literature in English: A Bibliographical Survey.

14:45 -15:15 Dr. Duygu Tekgül (Bahçeşehir University): The Reception of Contemporary Turkish Fiction in the Anglophone World: Patterns and Themes
(Chair: Özlem Berk Albachten)

15:15 -15:30 Break

15:30 -16:00 Amy Spangler (AnatoliaLit Agency): On the Agency of Agents and Translators: Navigating the Currents of Publishing

16:00 – 16:30 Dr. Nefise Kahraman (University of Toronto): From Translation to Readership: Practices and Predicaments of an Independent Publisher in the Canadian Publishing Scene
(Chair: Nicola Wilson)

16:30 -16:45 Break

16:45 -17:45 Keynote 3: Professor Aron Aji (The University of Iowa): Too Late, Too Soon: Translating National Classics for the Present-Time
(Chair: Daniela La Penna)

Maureen Freely is a writer, a translator, a professor at the University of Warwick, and the former President of English PEN. She has written eight novels, including four novels set in Istanbul – The Life of the Party, Enlightenment, Sailing through Byzantium, and (most recently) My Blue Peninsula – as well as a translator’s memoir, Angry in Piraeus. Her translations from Turkish include Tezer Özlü’s Cold Nights of Childhood, Sevgi Soysal’s Dawn, Suat Derviş’s In the Shadow of the Yali, Sema Kaygusuz’s The Well of Trapped Words, Tuba Çandar’s Hrant Dink: An Armenian Voice of the Voiceless in Turkey, Fethiye Çetin’s My Grandmother and The Grandchildren, Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book, Snow, Istanbul: Memories and a City, Other Colors: Essays and a Story, Istanbul: Memories and the City, and The Museum of Innocence, and – with Alexander Dawe– Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s The Time Regulation Institute, Sait Faik Abasıyanık’s A Useless Man, and Sabahattin Ali’s Madonna in a Fur Coat, as well as Hasan Ali Toptaş’s Shadowless and Reckless, with John Angliss. For many years Freely worked as a journalist in London, writing about literature, feminism, social justice, and human rights.

Aron Aji directs the Translation Programs at the University of Iowa. Past president of The American Literary Translators Association, Aji has given workshops and talks nationally and internationally, including France, Turkey, Armenia, Ukraine, and Northern Macedonia, on such topics as translation pedagogy, translation, and global humanities. A native of Turkey, he has translated works by Turkish writers, including three book-length works by Karasu: Death in Troy, The Garden of Departed Cats (2004 National Translation Award), and A Long Day’s Evening (NEA Literature Fellowship, and short-listed for the 2013 PEN Translation Prize). His recent translations include Ferid Edgü’s Wounded Age and Eastern Tales, and Mungan’s Valor (co-translated with David Gramling) (2022 Global Humanities Translation Prize).

Özlem Berk Albachten is currently a British Academy Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Languages and Cultures, University of Reading. She is a Professor of Translation Studies at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. Her research interests include translation history, intralingual translation, retranslation, Turkish women translators, and autobiography/life writing. She is the author of Translation and Westernisation in Turkey (2004) and Kuramlar Işığında Açıklamalı Çeviribilim Terimcesi (Annotated Translation Terminology, 2005). She co-edited Perspectives on Retranslation. Ideology, Paratexts, Methods (Routledge, 2019), Retranslation in Turkey (Springer, 2019), Routledge Handbook of Intralingual Translation (2024), and the Special issue: Retranslation, Multidisciplinarity and Multimodality for The Translator (2020).

Duygu Tekgül-Akın has a BA in Translation and Interpreting Studies from Boğaziçi University, an MA in Publishing and Language from Oxford Brookes University, and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Exeter. She did postdoctoral research at the Linguistics and Language Practice Department of the University of the Free State. Her research interests include the sociology of translation, and Turkish literature in English translation. Her work has appeared in international translation journals. She is currently based at Bahçeşehir University.

Amy Marie Spangler is the co-founder of the Turkish literary agency AnatoliaLit and a translator of several books from Turkish to English, including Aslı Erdoğan’s The City in Crimson Cloak, Mehmet Murat Somer’s The Serenity Murders, Sevgi Soysal’s Noontime in Yenişehir -with Kate Ferguson- Selahattin Demirtaş’s Dawn, -with Nermin Menemencioğlu- Leylâ Erbil’s A Strange Woman, and -with Alev Ersan and Mark David Wyers- Erbil’s What Remains.

Nefise Kahraman is a literary scholar and translator with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto. She holds a BA in Translation Studies from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. She is one of the founding members of Translation Attached, a Toronto-based independent publishing house dedicated to bringing literature from Turkey to an English-reading audience. She is a lecturer in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto.

For more information, please contact o.berkalbachten@reading.ac.uk.

The image at the top of the page shows a selection of books held in Halide Edib’s library at Istanbul University. Halide Edib’s The Shirt of Flame (1924) and The Clown and His Daughter (1935) were the first Turkish novels appeared in English. Halide Edib (1882-1964) was a Turkish writer, (self-)translator, and a feminist public figure, who became professor of English literature at Istanbul University (1939) and later a member of Parliament (1950-54). Photo credit: Dr. Ekin Öyken.


January 18
January 19