Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Literary Studies as Intercultural Discourse: The Encounter between Islamic and Western Civilization from a German-Turkish Perspective

Dr Elke Segelcke.

As Edward Said demonstrates in his book "Orientalism", "the European" has encountered "the Oriental" for at least three centuries only by way of stereotypes and images that "Orientalism" has created. In this context, Zafer Senocak (a leading voice in the German discussions on multiculturalism, national and cultural identity, and a mediator between Turkish and German culture) sees the new role of a "United Europe" especially disappointing so far since from his vantage point Europe is actively involved in the culturally conditioned misunderstandings between the two civilizations as evidenced in Turkey's (so far) failed attempts to become part of this united Europe. Although there is much to be said against an immediate Turkish membership in the European Community, Senocak rightly points out in some of his essays that the Europeans apparently have still not understood the importance of Turkey's involvement in European processes for discourse with the Islamic world as Turkey is the only secularized country with a Muslim population that has been oriented to the West for a century. While conservatives like Samuael P. Huntington fear the "Clash of Civilizations" and see cultural differences between civilizations rather than ideological and economic interests as the mobilizing forces of future world conflicts, German-Turkish writers like Senocak explicitly reject Huntington's thesis that aims to homogenize Western civilization. Instead, he emphasizes the need for both sides to recall their shared roots and to build "bridges", a commonly used trope in the works of German-Turkish writers that this paper intends to explore further within the cultural context outlined above.


Dr Elke Segelcke  (United States)
Associate Professor of German
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Illinois State University

German citizen, Studies in German & French at the University of Goettingen/Germany (Staatsexamen). PhD in German (dissertation on Heinrich Mann & Judicial Criticism) from UNC, Chapel Hill. At present Assoc. Prof. of German at Illinios State Univ. & German Graduate Advisor. Field of Research & Publication: Literature & Culture of the Weimar Era, Postunification Literature, Intercultural Literature

  • Discussion of Turkey's membership in the European Union
  • The encounter between Islamic and Western Civilization
  • The critical discussion of Huntington's thesis of a Clah of Civilization
Person as Subject
  • Huntington, Samuel Wehler, Hans-Ulrich Senocak, Zafer

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)