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‘Freudism’ and modernity: transcultural impact of psychoanalysis in the modern Turkish novel
  1. Burcu Alkan1,2
  1. 1 EUME, Forum transregionale Studien e V, Berlin, Germany
  2. 2 English, American Studies and Creative Writing, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Burcu Alkan, English, American Studies and Creative Writing, The University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK; burcu.alkan{at}


The theory of psychoanalysis came to Turkey in the early 1900s, but it was dismissed as being unmedical in a psychiatric context shaped by the Kraepelinian model. Still, it rapidly entered the intellectual discourses of the period, and in literature, it became a contact zone to discuss broader issues concerning the modernisation of the country. Novelists in particular undertook a critique of its epistemology to explore what they deemed the conflictual relationship between the native values and the westernising attitudes as broadly conceived at the time. Two early examples of such novelistic engagements with psychoanalysis are Peyami Safa’s Matmazel Noraliya’nın Koltuğu and Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü. This article focuses on the novelists’ engagement with psychoanalysis in their critique of the modernisation project adopted in Turkey through the theme of the ‘self-in-crisis’. Both texts contribute to the broader discussions of their milieu in a way that presents psychoanalysis as being representative of that which is modern and portray it critically to underline the dissonances between the old, traditional values and the new, imported ones.

  • psychoanalysis
  • comparative literature studies
  • literature and medicine
  • Medical humanities
  • cultural history

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  • Contributors BA is the sole author and guarantor of this article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.