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Burcu Alkan (University of Manchester)

Burcu Alkan

Burcu Alkan
Image Credit: Clara Kahn

Fellow in Research Area 4: "Literary Currencies"

September – November 2022

From Pseudo-Medicine to Freudo-Marxism: The Impact of Psychoanalysis on the Twentieth Century Turkish Novel

This project examines the impact of psychoanalytical epistemology on the modern Turkish novelistic imagination and investigates the transcultural manifestation of psychoanalysis in the Turkish literary sphere. It is a continuation of an earlier phase that focused on the introduction of psychoanalysis into the modern Turkish intellectual discourse and examined how psychoanalysis was utilised in the works of Peyami Safa and Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar. The first part established psychoanalysis as a thematic contact zone for discussing broader issues concerning the modernising attitudes in the first half of the twentieth century. The current, second phase explores the ideological transformation in the utilisation of psychoanalysis in literature in the second half of the century. It focuses on two novelists, Attilâ İlhan and Leyla Erbil, to examine the ways in which political psychoanalysis circulates as an intellectual currency in the form of a distinct Freudo-Marxism at the margins of Europe. The project builds on the changing political climate within the twentieth century as it becomes manifest in the move from a critique of modernity based on East-West dichotomies towards leftist ideas and revolutionary ideals.

Dr Burcu Alkan received her PhD at the University of Manchester (2009). Her thesis was published in Germany as Promethean Encounters: Representation of the Intellectual in the Modern Turkish Novel of the 1970s (2018). After having worked at various universities in Turkey, she took up a post as senior research fellow at Justus Liebig University, Giessen on a fellowship supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2017–2020). She has been an honorary research fellow at the University of Manchester, UK and a EUME fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin since 2020. She specialises in comparative literature with a focus on the modern Turkish novel. She was the co-editor of the two-volume reference work Dictionary of Literary Biography: Turkish Novelists Since 1960 (2013 & 2016). She also co-edited (with Çimen Günay-Erkol) a volume titled Turkish Literature as World Literature (2021), which locates Turkish literature as a source of influence in the world literary scene and challenges conventions in world and Turkish literary studies. Dr Alkan is currently working within the field of medical humanities and is interested in the relationship between literature and psychiatry, sciences of the mind, and mental health.