Fifth Undergraduate Conference on Anglo-American Literature: “Multiculturalism”


Bilkent University
Departments of American Culture and Literature
& English Language and Literature

Fifth Undergraduate Conference on Anglo-American Literature:


April 10-11, 2015
Bilkent University, Main Campus

            Bilkent University is pleased to announce the fifth undergraduate conference on Anglo-American Literature, jointly hosted by the Departments of English Language and Literature and American Culture and Literature. The conference will concentrate on multiculturalism in literature, culture, arts and pictures, and on screen and stage but its scope is intended to be broader. This year, we are excited to extend proposals not only to academic papers, but also alternative presentations such as: roundtable discussions, original creative writing, original performances (individual or group), original art projects, original film projects, amongst other possibilities.  You are encouraged to think of “multiculturalism” broadly.  Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:
  • Defining multiculturalism (what is multiculturalism)?
  • Multicultural folk culture(s): legends, tales & stories, storytelling practices, spiritual worldviews and spiritual practices, daily life, etc. 
  • Multiculturalism through the ages
  • Comparative multiculturalisms
  • Gender and multiculturalism
  • Politics and multiculturalism
  • Race and multiculturalism
  • Multiculturalism and globalization
  • Multicultral literature, film, art, performances
  • Multiculturalism and the media
  • The status of multiculturalism in Turkey

We invite you to submit a proposal of 250 words by 10 March 2015. Proposals will be reviewed by the committee on the basis of academic value and originality. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by the beginning of February, 2015 and presenters will be asked to submit their complete papers by March 30th. Presentations should not exceed 15 minutes. If you are interested in organizing a panel or a workshop, please include your requests while sending the proposal.



ELIT Mourns the Loss of Prof Talat Sait Halman

Prof Talat Halman, the Acting Chair of the Department of English Language and Literature passed away on Friday, December 5th, 2014.

In loving memory of Talat Hoca, whom we hold closest to our hearts...

He will never truly leave us, his light will always illuminate our path...

He will live on in the kindness he has shared and the love he brought into our lives.


An Issue of Simplistic Discrimination of Escapees

The play I have gone to see is “Macbeth: Bir Fikr-i Firar Meseli” in its original name, Turkish. It can be translated to English as “Macbeth: An Issue of an Idea of Escape”. It is both written and directed by Yılmaz Angay, who is a part of the theatre organization “Tiyatro Yeraltı” – “Underground Theatre Community”, as well as the whole actors. There are three characters playing as the leading roles, whose names are, Anıl Seren, Zeynep Başaran and Doğan Aktaş. The rest of the actors are mostly playing as puppeteers, and they are, Ali Değirmenci, Attila Aytekin, Aylin Topal, Fulya Paksoy, Hüseyin Martlı, Yağmur Yalçın, Sedot. It was performed in the theatre “Tiyatro Tempo” – which is a private theatre company – in 30 March, 2013, in Ankara. The theatre hall was relatively small, with an approximate capacity of 100 people. There were no single chairs to sit, instead, long chairs which are designed for approximately 10 person to sit were placed. Moreover, the chairs were quite close to the stage, which enables to see the actors’ mimics closely and not to miss any word. Before the play started, a few stools were placed on both of the right and left sides of the scene, which never left out of the stage through the entire play.

            The play makes its story based on some of Shakespeare’s plays, to wit, The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, Hamlet and Macbeth, and focuses on their plot which involve intrigues, war and masculine dominance. It is based on the idea of escape, clearly, there are three characters chosen from the three different plays of the Shakespeare, who decided to escape from Shakespeare’s pen and written papers, for their fate were determined to be miserable by Shakespeare. These three characters are totally against the main themes in Shakespeare’s plays, which are aforementioned: war, masculine dominance etc. The relation between Macbeth is that, they want to make Macbeth abandon his fate written by Shakespeare, not to kill anyone and live on his own. In fact, they want Macbeth to not to commit any murder, care for his wife more than he used to do; the three characters mostly combine the idea of freedom with these traits.
            These three characters were the only ones playing as themselves, apart from that, the story of 

Macbeth has been performed by puppeteers, Macbeth, the king and Lady Macbeth were introduced as puppets, which makes one easily say that their fate are determined by someone, in this case, by Shakespeare. Enough significant, there were two Macbeths, one of them was playing in the performance of Macbeth, and one of them was watching the play and thinking about what he has been doing. While he watches, three escaped characters try to enlighten Macbeth and want to make him escape from his determined fate. There are two climax at the play, which are really resemble to each other. First is the scene in which Macbeth is about to decide to escape from his fate, but he gives up, and the play goes on. The second is the last scene in which entire players leave the scene to make Macbeth think about his own situation and decide whether to escape or not, however, the audience gets no information there: after every actors leave, the light goes off slowly and Macbeth does not show any sign of escaping or the opposite. Nevertheless, Macbeth can be considered as in aware of his situation, in other words, he is aware of his determined fate. After all, the play’s overall theme is that every man must “break his chains” and stop acting as in Shakespeare’s plays, stop fighting, stop misbehaving women etc. Furthermore, this idea is also directly told to the audience by the escaped characters, and their story concerning how they have escaped are told to the audience as well. Since these three characters have been representing the “good” side, and the audience were expecting Macbeth to escape and join them, there was a good relationship in between those three characters and the audience. Nonetheless, it can be said that the play falls prey to this greatly simplistic discrimination between the good side and the bad side, i.e. escaped ones and the others.

            To talk about the scenes specifically, the most surprising scenes were already mentioned. First one, before which Macbeth abandons the idea of escape, was a very optimistic scene, a lively music was being played to create a sense of optimism, and this optimism creates an excitement among the audience. And, the finale made the audience leave the play confused, one may say that there was no enough clue to have a guess about Macbeth’s final decision, though this situation could be intentionally created. This sense of optimism were not limited within some specific scenes; the actors have been constantly putting humour in the speeches. Eventually, the play was not able to carry its excitement into the finale, therefore, it is reasonable to argue that the audience were not wholly satisfied at the end of the play.

            I am not totally in contradiction with the reaction of the audience; a soliloquy of Macbeth could be introduced to the finale, which would make the theme and Macbeth’s thoughts about the whole actions and speeches throughout the play, clarified. There were only the escaped characters’ voice I was able to hear in the whole play, however, hearing a different voice from a different perspective would be better. In general, the play divides people in between two, simply, escaped, good ones and the others, which is the worst aspect of the play. Apart from these, the scenes in which the three characters talk about their story were well prepared.

            Lastly, the setting and the production of the performance: the three characters were almost always at the centre-forward of the scene, and the puppeteers were at the behind. Lightning was basically applied on only the ones who speak or speaking on behalf of the puppets. Moreover, there was a shadow play at the left of the scene, which was animating the play, Macbeth, Macbeth at the war, Macbeth when he kills the king, etc. There was a music around when the play was about to reach its peak points, which simply exciting songs played by a transverse flute man, who is also a puppeteer. The music was successful in evoking excitement in the peak points. The costumes were not noteworthy, though. The three characters were dressed-up in an old-fashioned way, and all the puppeteers were dressed-up in pure black dresses. There was a problem with the setting however, sometimes, during the three characters’ speeches, the puppets were acting or there was the shadow play going on, which led me to miss some parts of the shadow play or the puppets” acting, since they were relatively at the back of the scene.
                                                                                                   Yakup Kutsal Koca


Jean-Paul Sartre, the famous existentialist philosopher wrote so many plays. On eleventh of March, we went to see one of them, named “La Putain Respecteuse” which was presented by the students of Bilkent Performing Arts in Turkish. Fortunately, the play was put on the stage in our campus, so we didn’t need to go far away. To be honest, if we had known that it would be presented in such a successful and effective way, we would definitely go to see it regardless without thinking its place.
The play was first presented in 1946 in France. After it was translated by the famous Turkish poet, Orhan Veli Kanık, it was performed in Turkey, in 1950. Since that day, the audience in Turkey have had chance to watch this play in various theatre stages. The one, which is in Bilkent is directed by Musa Arslanalı. The lead roles are performed by Zeynep Koltuk, Haluk Kaya, Baran Can Eraslan and Tansel Aytekin. The theatre hall is relatively small compared to other halls in Ankara. For this reason the auditoriums is small too and so close to the stage. As for the stage, it is decorated like a bed room. There is a messy, white bed at the left which seems that someone slept on it last night. At the centre in the room, there’s a coffee table and at the back, there’s a chest of drawers with a mirror. A woman, later, whom we learn that her name is Lizzie, tidies up the room while singing. The performance begins with that.
At the back of the stage, there’s a section opening to a bathroom where a man is taking a shower and there’s a door at the right back. Someone heavily bangs at the door. Later we learn that he is a black person who runs away the cops and he wants Lizzie to hide him. The truth is that, Lizzie is more inclined the story than it seems. The night before, that black person, Lizzie and some other guys were in the train. The whites was abusing Lizzie verbally and disturbing her. Trying to save her, two blacks discussed with the whites and there came out a fight. One of the blacks was shot by the whites. Because the other was accepted as equally dangerous, he needed to be captured and sentenced to death. The heart of the matter is that, the person who killed the black was Senator’s nephew.  Senator’s son found Lizzie and slept with her. Then it becomes clear that, his true intention was to deceive her and make her verify the story saying that she was harassed by the blacks and this was why the whites needed to shoot one of them. Otherwise, Senator’s family name would be defamed by this guilt. The people in the city are already willing to accept that the black are always guilty. The play is totally based on this prejudgement and discrimination about the blacks.
Lizzie is a prostitute, who has just arrived the city to work.  She believes that her fate is kind a sick, because wherever she goes, she gets into the hot water anyway. She’s an ignorant but a kind-hearted and honest woman. Senator’s son, Fred exploits her ignorance and feels free to make use of her bodily.  From the very first acquaintance with Fred, we, as the audience sense that he’s quite a proud and arrogant man. After he slept with Lizzie, he always humiliates her. When he gives out his true intention, he threats her with death to sign the document verifying the story they made up. He shouts and even beats her. The play’s second theme is surely the violence and humiliation towards women. The excitement of the audience hits the top especially when she is beaten by Fred.
Lizzie is decisive about not signing the paper, because she makes a word to the black taking shelter in her home while running away the police. She knows the truth and sure that the black is pure innocent. The one and only guilt he has is being black. Lizzie pities her. Even after she is threaten and beaten by Fred and his white friends so many times, she doesn’t change her mind. This is the point when the audience makes the sense of the title of the play. Lizzie is really a respectable prostitute for she roots for the underdog. Violence is totally useless to change her mind. Then, Senator comes in and he tries to convince Lizzie with sweet talk. Here we meet so-called weakness and emotional nature of women. At least, she is convinced to sign the paper.
As it can be seen clearly, the main themes of the play are discrimination, gender issues and class difference. Sartre heavily criticizes the social and economic dynamics in the society. He honestly shows how black people are seen as inferior race and accepted as tended to commit crime. The society, discriminating the blacks also has stereotypes about women, mostly related to gender mainstreaming. Women are portrayed as weak to deceive and dishonourable through the play. The last theme, maybe the hard to detect is the class difference, I assume. The document proving that the blacks are guilty is prepared for saving the Senator’s nephew.  As there is a colour difference between two races, there’s also a class difference as well. Senator’s struggle to convince Lizzie to make her sign the paper mostly is caused by the intention to save their family name and politic position.
All the messages are conveyed to the audience properly. Although the actors and actress are still students, they are nearly as perfect as Professional players. There’s a few sound and visual effects, but this doesn’t make the play dull, because the story takes place in one room from the beginning to the end.  All the details are so real, there’s nothing illusionistic and symbolic. The white suits that the whites wear may symbolize their race and social positions in the play.

To be critical, the hall was so small and there was no ventilation system. Sometimes this made the audience distract, they didn’t concentrate on what’s going on the stage while trying to cool themselves.  Apart from that, the play is performed in a really Professional way and remarkable words to say.
                                                                                              Meltem Aydın