Body Genres and Dramas of Turkishness: Alternative Archives of Spectacle, Excess, and Corporeality
This panel will center around three body genres, namely horror, melodrama and porn, to explore how the image of the Other is constructed through the spectacle of on-screen bodies in cinema across time and space. Following Linda Williams’s conceptualization of “body genres”, the panel focuses on the use of excess, bodily responses and spectacularisation of the body as the main elements of these genres. Genre conventions structure filmic narratives, construct experiences and transport tropes across borders. While the local cultural tropes and imaginaries are mobilized to adapt genre conventions, the cultural norms, stereotypes and discursive biases work to reinforce sensationalism as they allow for easier identifications. How does this dynamic unravel in the case of body genres that invest in Turkey and “Turkishness”? The panel explores three case studies each of which capitalizes upon a different area of “body-genre formation”, with a focus on how the genre conventions structure the imaginations of otherness in Turkish culture and society. From post-millenial horror films to Turkish-German porn productions, how are the “bodies” of Turkishness evolve across time, space, and genre? How do these representations relate to the changing technological means and cultural contexts? How are the bodily sensations and stylistic articulations of excess (i.e. fear, sorrow, and sexual desire/pleasure) registered on screen? Through a comparative lens, the panel seeks to start a conversation on the continuities and disruptions in the cultural imagery of the Other and how we can approach the body genres as repositories of knowledge of the cultural norms of corporeality.
Bodies in Pain, Bodies in Shame: Turkish Melodramas and the Spectacle of Disability, 1960-1980
Zeynep Serinkaya Winter (Nottingham Trent University, UK)
This paper will focus on the spectacle of disabled bodies as a crucial element in Turkish melodramas, a staple of popular culture in Turkey during the 1960s and 1970s. Being frequently used as a “narrative prosthesis” (Mitchell & Snyder, 2001) in the melodrama genre, the trope of disability is often taken for granted and remains starkly under-researched. This paper aims to identify and question the cultural meanings attached to disability in Turkey. Investigating the diverse audiences of Turkish melodramas and the ideological weight of the genre’s popularity, this study will also address the ways in which the representations of disability, together with those of sexuality, muster strong bodily sensations in audiences. How do disabled bodies contribute to the narrative and aesthetic function of melodrama as a body genre? I will seek to answer these questions by situating the imagery of Turkish melodramas within the political significance of bodily norms during the two tumultuous decades of social conflict. I will argue that the imagery of disability plays with lack and excess, the two core concepts shaping the aesthetics of melodrama. I will propose that these melodramas, while representing disability through its discourse of lack and excess, use visual conventions and stylistic elements from soft-core erotica and horror, overlapping images of pain and pleasure, shock and relief, merging sensations through its conflation of genre conventions. Providing close analyses of a selection of shots and sequences from Turkish melodramas, the paper will treat disability as a new conceptual anchor in the study of Yeşilçam, that provides new insights into the genre’s ideological function in terms of history, national identity, and cultural politics.
Keywords: disability, eugenicism, modernization, melodrama, Turkey, nationalism, popular culture
Mercer, John and Martin Shingler. “Melodrama: Genre, Style, Sensibility”, Wallflower, New York: 2004.
Mitchell, David and Sharon L. Snyder. “Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse”, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor: 2001.
Shildrick, Margrit. ”Dangerous Discourses of Disability, Subjectivity and Sexuality”, Palgrave MacMillan, London: 2009.
Singer, Ben. “Melodrama and modernity”, Columbia University Press, New York: 2005.
Role, Class and ‘Race’ Play in Gay ‘Ethnic’ Pornography: German – Turkish Porn Movies Produced in Turkey (1995-2005)
Emre Busse (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)
Pornography is a highly expedient, effective as well as affecting, cultural practice to consider the phenomena of post-national identities in Europe today. Nowhere is this more evident than in what Cervulle and Roberts have termed gay ethnic pornography: “a term widely used in French gay sexual culture to designate the particular genre of porn involving non-white men.” As part of this phenomenon French, German, Czech, and Swedish pornographic film production companies contributed to this genre with numerous films that have been produced in Europe and S.W.A.N.A. regions. Pioneering examples of French gay ethnic pornography inspired other Western European and US-based filmmakers and porn film companies to focus on the sub-genre of gay ethnic pornography. Following France, two pornographic film production companies based in Germany produced the examples of gay ethnic pornography between Turkey and Germany. As to date, there has been no systematic study of the gay ethnic pornography produced in Turkey. My research will argue that this cross-cultural exchange in Germany has been a central element in shaping the representation of gay ‘other’ in the last 30 years. To this end, this paper will engage in both archival and critical analysis of these productions.
Keywords: Germany, Turkey, pornography, gender, transnational cinema, post-colonialism
Maxime Cervulle, and Nick Rees-Roberts. “Queering the Orientalist Porn Package: Arab Men in French Gay Pornography.” New Cinemas 6, no. 3 (2009).
Linda Williams, Porn Studies (Durham: Duke UP, 2004).
Mehammed Amadeus Mack, Sexagon: Muslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017).
Tim Stüttgen, Post, Porn, Politics: Queer-feminist Perspective on the Politics of Porn Performance and Sex-work as Culture Production [symposium, Reader] (Berlin: B_, 2009).
Genre, Folklore, Religion: Epistemic Operations of Djinns, Heterodoxy and Syncretism in post-millennial Turkish Horror Film
Cüneyt Çakırlar (Nottingham Trent University, UK)
This paper focuses on the post-millennial emergence of the horror genre in Turkish cinema. Investing in the djinn, one of the key figures in Anatolian folklore, Turkic shamanism and Islamic mythology, these horror films tell paranormal stories of witchcraft, black magic, demonic possession and exorcism. Adopting a transnational style that appropriates various aesthetic modes of Asian and American horror, Turkish horror genre uses djinns to narrate stories that represent conflicted relations of kinship and property in contemporary Turkey. Ranging, thematically and stylistically, from the found-footage “techno-horror” to “horror dramas” of grief, revenge, jealousy and class conflict, these movies cite folklore and religion to represent the contemporary horrors of gender politics and kinship relations in post-secular Turkey. This paper will explore this genre formation by locating it within a critical framework informed by both the national political context, and the international mobility of paranormal horror in world cinema. Usually associated with Islamic heterodoxy, and religion-folklore syncretism, the figure of the djinn, and the spectacles of black magic, operates ideologically in these films. Considering folklore and heritage as discursively constructed epistemic practices of documentation, identity, and nation-building, this paper will provide a critical account of how the djinns of the post-millenial Turkish cinema re-invents, in spectacularising, an obscure object of horror, while evading the relations of Islamic heterodoxy, pre-Islam Anatolian heritage, and religion-folklore syncretism.
Keywords: Turkey, djinns, Islam, folk horror, gender, transnational cinema
Grant, Barry. 2013. “Digital Anxiety and the New Verité Horror and SF Film”, Science Fiction Film and Television 6(2): 153-75.
Koçer, Zeynep. 2019. “The Monstrous-Feminine and Masculinity as Abjection in Turkish Horror Cinema”, Gender and Contemporary Horror in Film, edited by Samantha Holland, Robert Shail and Steven Gerrard, Bingley: Emerald, pp. 151-65.
Sahintürk, Zeynep. 2016. “The Djinn in the Machine: Technology and Islam in Turkish Horror Film”, Digital Horror: Haunted Technologies, Network Panic and the Found Footage Phenomenon, edited by Linnie Blake and Xavier Aldana Reyes, London: I.B. Tauris.
Somay, Bülent. 2014. The Psychopolitics of the Oriental Father: Between Omnipotence and Emasculation. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Stone, Bryan. 2001. “Sanctification of Fear: Images of the Religious in Horror Films”, Journal of Religion and Film 5(2): n.p.