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Turkish Language and Literature

turk-dili-ve-edebiyatiAs human beings, one of our most important goals is to understand the world we live in and to experience it accordingly. In order to achieve this, we need, among other things, to have the ability to think analytically and have a capacity for interpretation. Given the fact that the essential aim of the discipline of literature is to provide its students with an aesthetical taste, interpretive and analytical thinking, it is clear that the disicpline of literature will help students to be equipped with the capacity to understand and interpret the world and social life. For this reason, an education in literature can almost be views as a basic requirement for such students.

Why Department of Turkish Language and Literature in Turkey

Is Turkey the right place to learn literature? Though there are many answers to this question, it suffices to present just a few here. Having an education in literature in Turkey is not only about Turkish literature, it also entails education in Islamic literature (such as Arabic, Persian, Chagatai etc.), of which Turkish literature is the latest addition. Literature education in Turkey, which is located in between the West and the East, also offers an opportunity to learn about and get familiar with two highly different cultural and literary traditions. Moreover, though the language of instruction is Turkish in Literature Departments, you will have the opportunity to learn several different languages, including Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, Persian, French, German, Spanish and English, in addition to your native language. Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to spend one or two semesters in a European country through the Erasmus Exchange Program, using Turkey's geographical advantages. There are also many universities in Turkey, where you will have the opportunity to attend conferences, exhibitions, colloquia and workshops in a culturally rich environment.

Education in Turkish Language and Literature in Turkey

Turkish Language and Literature Departments in Turkey usually consist of four sub-divisions:

In the Old Turkish Literature division, students learn about literary works written in Turkish during the period roughly from the 11th to the 19th century. The New Turkish Literature division entails the study of literary works that also reflect the modernization efforts in Ottoman Empire in the post-Tanzimat period (1839 onwards). The Linguistic division includes the examination of all kinds of texts written in Turkish from a linguistic perspective, though this division also has its own sub-fields. Finally, the Folk Literature division entails the study of the folkloric elements created during both the Ottoman and Republican periods.

The curricula in Turkish Language and Literature Departments include the basic courses of the above-mentioned four sub-fields of Turkish literature at the undergraduate level. Moreover, though courses in the Old and New Turkish Literature divisions are taught at all universities, the Linguistic and Folk Literature courses are offered less frequently than others in many departments due to the reasons related to their academic staff and the perspective of the universities. Still, all universities offers such basic courses as Ottoman Turkish, Old Turkish Literature, New Turkish Literature, the Structure of Modern Turkish, and Folk Literature. Moreover, many universities offer courses on literary theories and literary criticism at both graduate and undergraduate levels. In the graduate programs, while at least one class from Old Turkish Literature and New Turkish Literature fields are offered as required courses, the rest of the curriculum depends on the specific sub-division to which the student is admitted. Finally, there are many programs that offer courses on the comprative analysis of Turkish literature vis-a-vis both Eastern and Western literatures.

Essential and Desired Qualities, and Job Opportunities

Though Turkish literature departments vary on some minor points in Turkey, there are some essential conditions to get an education in literature. First and foremost, the student must be able to think analytically. Mastering this ability will also help master another important skill: interpretative capacity. Furthermore, while a literature student is expected to be prone to learning foreign languages, they are also required to have a passion for reading and an ability to analyze texts. Once equipped with these skills, the students are also expected to reach the level of being able to examine literary works. In addition to these academic skills, students are also expected to be open to learning different cultures and living together with people from different cultures as the texts that they encounter should be considered to be the representative of these other cultures.

Job opportunities for the graduates of literature departments are actually better than usually assumed. Teaching and academic career opportunities constitute the first and most common type for the literature graduates. Academic prospects also include many of the Departments of Middle Eastern and Near Eastern Studies in Europe and USA. Moreover, there are some natural job opportunites for them in such sectors as publishing, editing, and advertising, all of which are actually run by graduates of literature departments. Another important job prospectus for those who get a literature education in Turkey exists in NGOs and foundations, some of which are specifically founded by different governments to spread the cultures of their country in the world. In the case of Turkey, the most important of such institutions is the Yunus Emre Foundation that has many branches in different parts of the world. Finally, equipped with the necessary academic background, literature graduates may also have job opportunities in public and private institutions that play a role in the development of cultural relationships between their own country and Turkey as well as other countries.

Although there are many leading academics in the field of Turkish Language and Literature who are recognized both in Turkey and the world, we can cite Talat Sait Halman, Ömer Faruk Akün, İlhan Başgöz, Günay Kut and İnci Enginün, just to name a few.