Boğaziçi University Hosts Nâzım Hikmet Under an Academic Roof, A First for Turkey
Given the scarcity of academic studies on Nâzım Hikmet, one of the most important contemporary Turkish poets, Boğaziçi University established the Nâzım Hikmet Research Center for Culture and the Arts on its premises to fill this gap and support academic research.
Prof. Murat Gülsoy, director of the center that opened its doors on December 15, 2014, spoke about how the Nâzım Hikmet Research Center for Culture and the Arts came to be established and the short and long term projects of the center.
How did the idea for the Nâzım Hikmet Research Center for Culture and the Arts come about?
M.G.: “The Nâzım Hikmet Research Center for Culture and the Arts was established at Boğaziçi University in April 2013 to conduct interdisciplinary studies in the fields of literature, history, the arts, and social sciences, and to celebrate the memory and cultural heritage of Nâzım Hikmet, founding poet of contemporary Turkish poetry.Asst. Prof. Zeynep Uysal serves as the center’s assistant director and Buket Okucu is its coordinator.
The life and work of Nâzım Hikmet, and Turkey’s recent political history cannot be considered independently of one another.There are periods when he was banned and declared a traitor as well as periods when he was embraced as a national poet.Recently, especially after the law that revoked his citizenship was lifted, and thanks to the efforts of the Nâzım Hikmet Foundation, perceptions about Nâzım Hikmet began to shift substantially in Turkey.With this center, though, it is the first time an academic unit at a public university carries his name.So it is historically very significant.”
Hosting Research Studies on Nâzım Hikmet and Recent Turkish History
What will be the main areas of research?
M.G.: “Research centers need to include people from different disciplines and this requirement also holds for the Nâzım Hikmet Research Center for Culture and the Arts.We have two basic objectives.The first is to examine the works of Nâzım Hikmet and Turkey’s recent history in this context and support studies in this area.Nâzım Hikmet was an author who was banned until 1965 and later considered objectionable during the 1980s.As a result, there aren’t a lot of studies on Nâzım Hikmet in academia.The Nâzım Hikmet Research Center for Culture and the Arts will encourage and host studies in this area. Later on, students will directly be provided with scholarships and encouraged to write theses and dissertations in this field.Our second objective is to become a research center that is also active in areas such as the sociology and the history of literature.In other words, we aim to become a multidisciplinary research center; our work will not be limited only to Nâzım Hikmet.
What has been done at the center so far?
First, we established the Nâzım Hikmet Library within the offices of the Nâzım Hikmet Research Center for Culture and the Arts.Next, we initiated the “Oral History Project” to trace the impact of the poet in Turkish poetry.In the context of this project, we will conduct and videotape in-depth interviews with living poets.Another project is the “Nâzım Hikmet Bibliography” we recently opened to sharing on our website.This bibliography makes it possible to scan through a wide range of Nâzım’s work and books, theses, and articles written on him.We also began a project we call “Nâzım’s Story: The Gallery of a Life.”People will be able to browse through Nâzım’s life and works on our website and listen to the videotaped opinions of various experts and academicians.We will also have a regularly-updated blog that will feature writings on Nâzım Hikmet.”
A Series of Activities on Nâzım Every Month
What kinds of future activities are being planned?
M.G.: “From January 2015 onwards, we plan to hold four different activities every month.The first event every month is to hold a conference or talk on Nâzım Hikmet. The second is the series of events called “Dialogues,” where we will examine lesser-known works in world literature with author Ayfer Tunç.In the “Interdisciplinary Encounters” events, we will hold talks on specific topics with two or three speakers from different disciplines.Finally, at the “Author-Poet Meetings” we will invite a poet/writer who has a new book out, and hold a reading/talk.These events will be open to the public.”
How will Nâzım Hikmet, as a figure, contribute to the research studies of the center?
M.G.: “Nâzım Hikmet is such a multi-faceted figure, he invites discussion in many different areas.He was a playwright and a screenwriter, for instance; then there are his ties to Muhsin Ertuğrul and political life. He was also a painter.You can study Turkey’s recent history from the 1920s to the 1950s, for example, on the basis of Nâzım Hikmet.I am hopeful that this center will become an important meeting place for literature and the arts at Boğaziçi University and in Turkey.”
For detailed information on the center please visit www.nazimhikmetmerkezi.boun.edu.tr