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Imagi-nation of Women as Gendered National Subjects in Turkish Novels (1923–1938)

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This article seeks to explain how women have been depicted in novels during the early Republican period (1923–1938). My main objective is to explore how women have been located in fiction in Turkey's nation-building project. I will show which themes were used and which characteristics were emphasized in portraying female heroes of these narratives. The representations of women articulated in the novels of this period are meaningful in terms of understanding the imagination of 'new Turkish Women' in Turkish nationalism. The main concern here is twofold: to examine how women have been made as national subjects and elaborate on those characteristics, which have been used in the construction of Turkish women in Turkish novels.

My starting point for the analysis of the novels is Benedict Anderson's theory, which suggests that the nation is an imagined community both politically and culturally (Anderson, 1983: 6). The definition of the nation as 'an imagined community' leads us to the point that how we imagine our community influences how we experience it. In this imagination, different metaphors and symbols used in common language are important in defining how members of a community interact with each other, which roles they envision for themselves and which qualities they attribute for themselves. The perception of social reality is formed largely by the representational systems and the literary canon is considered as the most significant form of representation because it is possible to find out the expressions of highest ideals and aspirations in literary representation (Morris, 1993: 8).


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