Areas of research: German, Turkish, and Anglophone Studies
Languages: German and Turkish
Kader Konuk received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Paderborn University in 1999 and has been teaching at the University of Michigan since 2001. Trained as a comparatist in German, Turkish, and English literature, her research is situated at the disciplinary nexus between literary criticism, cultural studies, and cultural history. Specifically, she investigates the intersections between the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim worlds, beginning with the Ottoman Westernization reforms of the early eighteenth century and continuing on to current debates over Turkey's compatibility with Western culture. In examining the context for East-West relations (ambassadorial missions, military adventures, travel, migration, and exile), her work analyzes cultural practices like integration, assimilation, and ethnomasquerade, practices that often shaped encounters between Western Europeans, Ottomans, and Turks. Kader Konuk is the author of East West Mimesis: Auerbach in Turkey (Stanford UP 2010). To pursue this research project, Konuk was awarded a fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2007. Other fellowships were granted by the Institute for Advanced Studies Berlin (2005), the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation (2001), the Center for Literary and Cultural Research in Berlin (2007), the German Research Council (1999-2000), and the Research School of Humanities at the Australian National University in Canberra (2009). Her current research project on secularism in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures specifically investigates how time and progress have been conceptualized in Islamic cultures to this day. These are the kinds of questions Jewish-German émigrés Karl Löwith and Erich Auerbach asked with regards to interpretations of the past in the literature of the ancient and Judeo-Christian world. This project addresses a major desideratum in our field, namely a comprehensive, comparative study of the ways in which Muslims have approached the past. Teaching in two units, the Departments of Comparative Literature and German, Konuk pursues a single overarching goal—that of promoting cultural fluency and analytical thinking by exploring literature in its historical context. Her signature offering in Comparative Literature is a course on modernism, magical realism, and postmodernism from Proust and Kafka to Pamuk. Her graduate seminars focus primarily on literary theory and disciplinary history: “From World Literature to Transnational Literatures,” for example, is an introduction to Comparative Literature that spans the history of the field from Goethe and Schlegel to Auerbach, Damrosch and Apter. Other regular graduate course offerings include an interdisciplinary seminar on “Postcolonial Studies.” As a new initiative, she now also offers a course entitled “Europe's Islam: A Cultural History from Dante to Rushdie” that allows students to study the Western literary imagination vis-à-vis Islam from the European Renaissance to our day.
- East West Mimesis: Auerbach in Turkey (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010).
- Identitäten im Prozeß: Literatur von Autorinnen aus und in der Türkei in deutscher, englischer und türkischer Sprache (Essen: Die Blaue Eule, 2001).
- AufBrüche: Kulturelle Produktionen von Migrantinnen, Schwarzen und jüdischen Frauen in Deutschland, ed. Cathy S. Gelbin, Kader Konuk, and Peggy Piesche (Königstein/Taunus: Ulrike Helmer Verlag, 1999).
- “Hüzün als Melancholie der Endzeit in Orhan Pamuks Istanbul-Memoiren,” Plurale Topographie Europas, ed. Esther Kilchmann, Andreas Pflitsch, and Franziska Thun-Hohenstein Franziska Thun-Hohenstein (Berlin: Kadmos, forthcoming).
- “Germans and Jews in Turkey: Ethnic Anxiety and Mimicry in the Making of the European Turk,” Ethnicity in Today’s Europe, ed. Roland Hsu (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010), 157–90.
- “Erich Auerbach and the Humanist Reform to the Turkish Education System,” Comparative Literature Studies 45, no. 1 (2008): 74–89.
- “Eternal Guests, Mimics, and Dönme: The Place of German and Turkish Jews in Modern Turkey,” New Perspectives on Turkey 37 (2007): 5–30.
- “Taking on German and Turkish History: Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s Seltsame Sterne,” Gegenwartsliteratur: German Studies Yearbook 6 (2007): 232–56.
- “Antagonistische Weltanschauungen in der türkischen Moderne: Die Beteiligung von Emigranten und Nationalsozialisten an der Grundlegung der Nationalphilologien in Istanbul,” Istanbul: Geistige Wanderungen aus der Welt in Scherben? ed. Faruk Birtek and Georg Stauth (Bielefeld: transcript, 2007), 191–216.
- “Ethnomasquerade in Ottoman-European Encounters: Re-enacting Lady Mary Wortley Montagu,” Criticism 46, no. 3 (2004): 393–414.