The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Ela Gezen

Associate Professor (On Leave Spring and Fall 2023)

Ela Gezen - German & Scandinavian Studies, UMass Amherst

(413) 545-6678

Personal Website

517 Herter Hall

Ela Gezen’s research and teaching focus on 20th and 21st century German literature and culture, with emphases on literatures of migration, minority discourses, historical and theoretical accounts of transnationalism, and literary and cultural theory. Her first book Brecht, Turkish Theater, and Turkish-German Literature: Reception, Adaptation, and Innovation after 1960, examines the significance of Bertolt Brecht for Turkish and Turkish-German literature. She has co-edited two special issues, Colloquia Germanica (“Transnational Hi/Stories: Turkish-German Texts and Contexts”) and the Jahrbuch Türkisch-deutsche Studien (“Turkish-German Studies: Past, Present, and Future”), exploring new directions in Turkish-German Studies by expanding geographical, methodological, and temporal frameworks. A special issue on Aras Ören she edited was published with Monatshefte in 2020. She also co-edited Minorities and Minority Discourse in Germany since 1990 published in 2022 with Berghahn Books. In addition she has published articles on music and literature, focusing on the intersection between aesthetics and politics in both Turkish and German contexts. Currently, she is working on her second book, Cultures in Migration: Turkish Artistic Practices and Cultural-Political Interventions in West-Berlin. Situated at the interdisciplinary nexus of cultural studies, history, migration studies, and the study of cultural policy, it investigates cultural practices by Turkish artists, academics, and intellectuals during the late 1970s and early 1980s as an early manifestation of Turkish self-presentation in West Germany, and more specifically as a key part of the formation of a Turkish public sphere in West Berlin. Together with Dr. Ben Schoefield, she is the co-editor of the book series, Transnational Approaches to Culture, published with DeGruyter.

In 2021 she was the recipient of the AATG Outstanding German Educator award, given annually in recognition of “innovative teaching, extraordinary talent, and exceptional leadership in the German teaching profession.”

She has been named a 2022-2023 Berlin Prize fellow by the American Academy in Berlin and will spend the spring 2023 semester in Berlin.


PhD 2012, Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Michigan Ann Arbor
MA 2005, Central Eurasian Studies (Turkish Studies), Indiana University Bloomington
BA 2001, American, French, and Turkish Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

Selected Publications

Brecht, Turkish Theater, and Turkish-German Literature: Reception, Adaptation, and Innovation after 1960 (Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2018)

Guest Co-Editor, Transit Thematic Cluster (Re)examining the Turkish German Archive(s) (September 2022)

Guest Editor, Monatshefte, Special Issue – Aras Ören 102.4 (December 2020)

Invited Guest Co-Editor, Colloquia Germanica, Special Issue – Transnational Hi/Stories: Turkish-German Texts and Contexts 44.4 (2011, published December 2014)

Invited Guest Co-Editor, Jahrbuch Türkisch-deutsche Studien, Special Issue – Turkish-German Studies: Past, Present, and Future (2015)

"Türkisch-deutsche literarische Begegnungen in Westberlin um 1980," Berlin International. Literaturszenen in der geteilten Stadt (1970-1989), eds. Jutta Müller-Tamm et al. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2023. 229–242.

"(West-)Berliner Zeitlichkeiten und das Archiv der Migration: Aras Ören und Deniz Utlu," Zeitschrift für Interkulturelle Germanistik 13.2, Special Issue on Berliner Topographien (January 2023): 55–66.

"Trümmerhaufen der Vergangenheit, das Mittelmeer und die Namenlosen: Merle Krögers Havarie (2015), Grenzfälle. Dokumentarische Praxis zwischen Film und Literatur bei Merle Kröger und Philip Scheffner, ed. Nicole Wolf. Berlin: Vorwerk 8, 2021. 198–213.

“Integration, Turkish Theater, and Cultural-Political Interventions in West Berlin: Vasıf Öngören’s Kollektiv Theater (1980–1982),” Comparative Drama, Special Issue on Performing Turkishness and Its Others: Theater and Politics in Turkey and Its Diasporas 53 (2018): 301–321.

“Türkische und Türkisch-Deutsche Perspektiven in der (Re)Konstruktion von ‚1968’.” Invited contribution for undercurrents, Special Issue on 1968 und die (Re)Konstruktion linker Jubiläen, January 2019.

“Poetic Empathy, Political Criticism, and Public Mourning: Esther Dischereit’s Klagelieder,” Gegenwartsliteratur: A German Studies Yearbook 17 (2018): 313–330.

“Brecht and Turkish Political Theater: Sermet Çağan’s Savaş Oyunu(1964),” Back to the Future. Tradition and Innovation in German Studies, edited by Marc Silberman (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2018), 173–193.

“May Ayim und der Blues,” Monatshefte 108.2 (2016): 247–258.

“Aras Ören and the (West)German Literary Left.” Invited contribution for Literature Compass 13.5, Special Issue on Labor Travels, Art Forms, (2016): 324– 331.

“Brecht on the Turkish Stage: Adaptation, Experimentation, and Theatre Aesthetics in Genco Erkal’s Dostlar Tiyatrosu.” German Life and Letters 69.2, Special Issue on Bertolt Brecht (2016): 269–284.

Research Areas

  • 20th and 21st century German literature, theater, and music
  • Minority discourse
  • Cultural studies
  • Transnationalism
  • Migration

Courses Recently Taught

  • German 365: Berlin - Global City [GenEd: ALDG]
  • German 425: Topics in German Studies
  • German 697LM: Literatur und Migration: Texte und Kontexte
  • German 697TG: Transnational Hi/Stories: Turkish German Texts and Contexts
  • German 797W: Minorities and Minority Discourses in Germany since 1990