Spring 2022

A Letter From the Chair of NELC

When I began my term as the Chair of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization in July 2021, I imagined some headlines I’d like to see in a Spring 2022 departmental newsletter:

*Return to Classrooms as COVID Subsides!

*Public Events Resume in Person with the Farhat Ziadeh Lecture and More!

* Outstanding Faculty Member Stephanie Selover Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure!

*Enthusiasm for Newly Established Language Minors!

*NELC Students Win Accolades and Earn Distinction!

*Exciting New Support for Persian Translation Projects!

*New Faculty Hires in NELC!

Remarkably, all of those desired successes I hoped to report have now come to pass. And you can learn more about these welcome developments from this, our first electronic NELC newsletter.  

Here, let me call your attention to just a few aspects of our news stories. In noting some personnel changes, I wish to acknowledge faculty and staff who have contributed so much to our past endeavors, even as I extend a warm welcome to our newcomers.

In Spring Quarter 2022, most instructors and students are in the process of returning to in-person classes. Please note that graduation ceremonies are scheduled to take place on campus this year.  NELC plans to hold its Convocation -- honoring students who are completing a major, minor, or MA in our department – on Friday, June 10 at 3:00-5:00 in the afternoon. Along with our 2022 graduating class, students who finished degrees in 2020 and 2021 are invited to join us and enjoy the kind of live event that we couldn’t hold for the past two years due to pandemic restrictions. Keep in mind that the University of Washington Commencement exercises are scheduled for June 11 and June 12. Families of NELC students are encouraged to include our departmental Convocation in their June celebrations!

At Convocation we also wish to honor Professor Michael Williams and Teaching Professor Gary Martin, who both retired in 2021 and are now members of our Emeritus faculty. Michael Williams, a distinguished scholar of early Christianity and related religious movements, for many years taught Coptic and a range of other courses that contributed vitally to NELC curriculum. He served as Chair of NELC from 1997-2005. In that role he was a model of thoughtful, judicious leadership.  Gary Martin completed a PhD at the University of Washington in 2007 and since then has taught many courses in our program on Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East Studies. His classes attracted hundreds of students every year, and NELC has benefited tremendously from both his teaching and his unflagging good cheer.

Yet another personnel change in NELC has come about as the Humanities Division at UW re-organized its academic advising responsibilities. Dr. Gabe Skoog served from 2014 to 2020 as our Undergraduate Advisor, and everyone in the department remains in his debt for the wonderful work and support he provided. Thank you, Gabe; we miss you. Special thanks and grateful acknowledgment now go to Dr. Nancy Sisko, Associate Director of Humanities Academic Services, who has taken on advising roles for NELC undergraduates and has helped guide faculty and staff through curriculum development, efforts to publicize and promote our courses, outreach to students, and the mysteries of MyPlan registration and the Time Schedule.

Building toward the future of the program in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East Studies, NELC has hired Dr. Kathryn Medill as an Assistant Teaching Professor. Her appointment begins September 2022. Another hire in the works will add new dimensions to NELC. The appointment of an Assistant Professor in the field of Jewish Cultures, Languages, and Literatures of the Eastern Mediterranean will expand on the already strong Sephardic Studies field at the University of Washington. This position will add Ladino to the rich array of other language courses taught in our department.

We are pleased to announce that NELC has two new adjunct faculty members: Prof. Matthew Mosca of the UW History Department and Prof. Scott Radnitz of UW’s Jackson School of International Studies contribute their expertise to our program in Turkic and Central Eurasian Studies. We also recognize with appreciation the visiting scholars and instructors who have enriched activities in NELC this year: Dr. Makda Weatherspoon, who has taught multiple courses in our Arabic program; Dr. Paula Holmes-Eber who taught Introduction to Islamic Civilization; Dr. Sarah Ketchley, who is offering a Spring Quarter course on digital humanities and discovering King Tut; Dr. Brendan Goldman who is offering a Spring Quarter course called Islam in Jewish Contexts and Judaism in Muslim Contexts; Dr. Gürbey Hiz of Kadir Has University, conducting research on  Reşad Ekrem Koçu’s Dictionary of Istanbul; Merve Cengizhan, a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant in Turkish; Affiliate Assistant Professor Naghmeh Samini, who taught courses on Iranian cinema and literature; and NELC Teaching Assistants, William Bamber, Bushra Demirkol, Forrest Martin, Corinna Nichols, Ayda Apa Pomeshikov,and Maral  Sahebjame, as well as Research Assistant Andrew Weymouth and Predoctoral Instructor Nida Kiali.

Watch our website for more announcements, news updates, and an archive of departmental activities. Many thanks to Stephanie Selover, Selim Kuru, Shahrzahd Shams, Rick Aguilar, Patrick Gibbs, and Mitch Olsen for their work on this newsletter.

---Prof. Naomi Sokoloff, Chair NELC

A Gateway Worth Walking Through: Mitchell C. Olsen

 Why take NEAR E 101, “Gateway to the Near East”? This -5-credit introductory course has been offered during the Fall Quarter of each academic year since Fall 2015, and is a requirement for all NELC majors. However, the question still stands, what exactly is Gateway to the Near East and why should students to take it?

The primary goal of NEAR E 101 is to introduce students to the general breadth of Middle Eastern studies, and to teach the Middle East beyond the common portrayals in contemporary media. The course is co-taught by a number of NELC professors and invited lectures, and is divided into five sections. The first, on the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East, is taught by Professor Stephanie Selover. The second section, Hebrew and Israeli Studies, is taught by Professor Naomi Sokoloff. After this the course leads into Arabic and Arab Studies taught by Professor Hamza Zafer and continues with Persian and Iranian Studies taught by Professor Aria Fani, and lastly Central Eurasian and Turkish Studies, which is co-taught by Professors Talant Mawkanuli and Selim Kuru. Each faculty member, as specialists in their fields, enthusiastically and passionately seize the opportunity to pass on their knowledge along to undergraduate students. As someone who has taken this course, I can testify that this is a one of a kind experience.

While it is open to all UW students, NEAR E 101 is the only course that all NELC students, regardless of specific area, are required to take. When asked why, Professor Selover stated that since the NELC Department covers such a vast area of knowledge, “Gateway to the Near East” allows students to develop a better idea of how their specific area of study fits into the bigger picture around it. The course also introduces students to the wide variety of courses they can take within NELC, allowing students  to have a broader understanding of the field of Near Eastern studies.

When asked what was her favorite thing about NEAR E 101, Professor Selover replied “I think my favorite thing about it is how different student experiences are coming into the course” and continues to say how she likes that the yearly FIG (First-year Interest Group) section mixed in with all of the majors and non-majors, including students from freshmen to seniors, brings so many different kinds of people and perspectives together. She further states that having such diverse experiences and perspectives opens up the mind to so many new ideas and occasionally forces even the instructors to look at the very things which they have studied for their entire careers in a whole new light.

In summary, the diversity of students, human experiences, perspectives, and different areas of knowledge that are all brought together in this one course is what truly makes “Gateway to the Near East” the kind of mind-opening experience so many students look forward to and hope to find while attending college. It is a course which can spark interests and passions which you may not even know you had. Thus, whether you wish to dedicate yourself to this field of study, or if you have no prior knowledge of the Middle East and are simply looking for a great class with light-weight requirements and a focus on student engagement, this course is undoubtedly one worth signing up for and one you are extremely unlikely to regret taking. NEAR E 101 is far more than what meets the eye and is not only a gateway to the Near East, but to so much more.   

Interview with Scott B. Noegel on “Wordplay” in Ancient Near Eastern Texts 

Written by Corinna Nichols

“Wordplay” in Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Scott B. Noegel, Ancient Near East MonographsVolume: 26,  SBL Press, 2021

This monograph offers a comparative study of the various functions that wordplay serves in ancient Near Eastern texts and provides a comprehensive taxonomy for the phenomenon. Languages covered include Sumerian, Akkadian, Egyptian, Ugaritic, biblical Hebrew, and Aramaic. The monograph also examines definitions of "wordplay" by exploring ancient conceptions of words and the generative role of scripts (consonantal, syllabic, and pictographic).

Also discussed are issues of terminology, genre, audience, grammaticality, interpretation, and methodology. The book further considers the distribution and preferences of these devices among the languages and discusses a number of principles and strategies that inform their creation, such as ambiguity, repetition and variation, delayed comprehension, metaphor and metonymy, clustering, and the use of rare words. The book concludes by suggesting potential avenues for future research.

You can download the book from SBL here.

What drew you to this topic?

I've been interested in this topic since before I became a graduate student. It was one of the reasons I was drawn to Cornell University to do my graduate work: Gary Rendsburg, who later became my advisor, was working on it quite a bit. I was also inspired by some of my undergraduate teachers: Alan Corée, Moshe Garsiel, and Yair Hoffman. Even then I saw there was an opportunity for growth in that fledgling field, so that was one part of my interest.

But also, I noticed that there was a kind of intellectual disdain for puns, however you want to define them, and it was really based on more contemporary and Western sensibilities and interests. No one in the ancient world winced at these devices: they were serious and present everywhere. And as I got deeper into Near Eastern literature generally, I realized that it wasn't just in the Hebrew Bible, or ancient Egyptian, or the Akkadian texts. These devices were so widespread that it got me thinking, especially in the cases of devices with very specific uses or syntax or framework for use: how did they make their way across geographic and cultural boundaries? I realized the ancient world was much smaller and more closely connected, at least in terms of the intelligentsia and the social production of texts. 

When I discovered the first so-called “Janus parallelism” in Akkadian literature, I realized that this material was incredibly widespread and deep. That's why I first collected the studies in Puns and Pundits—I wanted to show that this phenomenon was so widespread geographically and chronologically that it was hard to deny its existence. And once I had that on a firmer footing, I could embark on other studies to have it legitimized in the discipline.

Why did you choose to publish it with the Society for Biblical Literature?  

I specifically chose SBL because having the book be open access is important to me. I wanted it to be freely available and accessible worldwide.

Recently I gave a paper at an Egyptological conference, and one of the attendees made a comment—not during my talk—about various devices in the Tale of the Two Brothers. And I made the comment that this device is even more prevalent than their question indicated. And they said, “Well, actually, I got it from your book.” So it’s fascinating how quickly I got feedback: I had just published it and that person had access to the book. Typically, it takes seven to ten years for a book's contents to permeate scholarship. But open access has collapsed that timeline exponentially.

I notice “wordplay” in is quotes in the title of the book: why is that?

This is deliberate: I intended to problematize the word. I had some pushback from the publisher on that, actually. It wasn’t so much a philosophical issue: it just wasn’t in their format. But it was really important: the whole concept that's embedded into the first couple of chapters of the book is that the term “wordplay” is misleading.

It’s problematic in two ways. First, although many of the terms for it—Wortspeile, jeu de mots, even one of the Hebrew expressions, משחקי לשׁון (miśḥqe lashon), involve “play,” in antiquity there’s nothing playful about it; it is primarily performative in function.

And second, “word” is also problematic: the assumption, especially based on modern Western languages, is that the word is the most basic element of any literary device. But in other writing systems, like Akkadian or Egyptian, that’s just not the case. There, a sign is the most basic element and it can have all kinds of different values even within the same word. 

Then there was the general problem of “wordplay” being used by everybody for everything. Similarly, “alliteration” has been used for many distinct devices that look similar but have very different functions in the text, and this use masks those differences. So I define “alliteration” as a sonic effect, but separate the distinct functions. If we lose those differences, we lose sight of the intricacies. I set out to create a typology that restored these intricacies and jettisoned some of these older terms.

Is there an example you can give in translation?

It’s hard to give examples in translation, and that’s one of the things that this book underscores: it’s very difficult to convey multiple meanings simultaneously in another language. We see this already with various ancient textual witnesses like the Septuagint, where often a translator has to resort to adding another verse to his translation in order to capture a second meaning of a word.

Also, the writing system can make translation difficult. For example, in Akkadian, you might have a word written out with a series of signs that can be syllables or words in and of themselves. One sign in that word can have many different meanings that the reader can’t help seeing. So there are always two texts: the one read out loud, where you’d choose one reading of a word or sign, and the kind of inner-circle text that would have been discussed—just as we do now, in class—to consider the multiple meanings of words. But there's no room in translation for that. And I suppose that's fine because at least from the ancient standpoint, many of these devices would have been considered secrets. 

As far as examples, maybe the best place to start is to emphasize that in the ancient world, text and image are essentially the same thing. We differentiate them. But for the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians, script was image because the script has pictographic origins and they still knew, even after thousands of years, what those origins were. 

So you often have Egyptian sculptures which can be read as hieroglyphs: a sculpture may be the infant Horus, with his hand to his mouth, but you don’t need the inscription to realize it's the sun god incarnate. Just because it's a sculptural three-dimensional form doesn't mean it's not a glyph. 

We also have dream or omen interpretations that are based on the multiple meanings of the image seen in a dream. Others are based on sound: in Egyptian, if you dream of pḥwy, your “rear end,” you’re going to come to your “end” (death).

That sounds a little glib.

It does sound a little humorous. But the performative function behind these omens, and the assumptions that go into creating them are vastly different than what we would consider purely literary or entertaining.

If someone has a dream full of enigmatic images, their first reaction is panic because it's a divine message that they don't understand. That’s the mission of the interpreter, the mantic, to give the dream a meaning that can be dealt with in some way. The expert establishes a direction for understanding the divine message. A dream cannot now mean anything, but must mean one thing. Interpretations render a divine judgment.

Whom do you see as the audience for your book? How might they use it?

I intended the book to be a kind of reference work, and that's one of the reasons for keeping all the examples. I also wanted it to help catalog devices, so we have a shared vocabulary, a shared set of possible functions, so that we are speaking the same language. Then we can delve more deeply into the details of these devices.

As for the audience, I imagine it's for people trained in one or more of these languages: I hope that, for example, Assyriologists will go to it and see that a device also occurs in Egyptian or Hebrew, and have a better understanding of how shared these devices are across different ancient cultures. And I think there's enough Greek in the book to be of interest to classicists, and I do adopt some terms from Greek literature to describe some of these devices.

Do you think being at UW has helped you in your writing process?

Yes, and I've always been happy here, and there are three reasons (at least). The first is that UW is a naturally transdisciplinary place. There are many different faculty working on many different things, and you can always tap somebody for answers or collaborate with them. I’m an adjunct professor in History, Comparative Religion, Classics, and several other departments, so there’s always this transdisciplinary conversation going on, which I think doesn't always happen as much at other universities. For example, Classics and the Near East do not always interact that closely, although that’s changing now. But even when I first came here, I was invited to participate in Classics events right away – it was very welcoming. In fact, I’m co-writing an article with Jim Clauss in Classics right now.

The second reason is really the quality of students, both undergraduate and graduate--they always surprise you. UW draws from the whole Pacific Northwest and beyond, so we have a very high level of students. And because of that we’re making discoveries together in class every day. It reminds me of the rabbinic saying, “I have learned a lot from my teachers, more from my colleagues, but most from my students.”

The third part of this I think, and this really speaks to the people who have chaired or directed various departments and programs, is that I've always been allowed to do what I want to. At some universities I would have been pigeonholed as “the Bible guy” and only been able to teach that. Here I can teach Hebrew, but also Ugaritic, Egyptian, and art history. And at the same time, the transdisciplinary nature of the university allowed me to grow in certain areas where I had less familiarity.

And because of this, I published in areas outside of the Hebrew Bible, from Classics to Egyptology to Assyriology to Ugaritic and beyond. It's one of the reasons why a book like this was even possible—all of that transdisciplinarity, plus the influence and interest of the students.

You'll notice, by the way, that I dedicated the book to my students past, present, future, because scholars never want their works to be the end-all. At least I don't. I want students to take it to another level, make observations, find new ways, new avenues, new knowledge, etc. And book is just the first of its kind in many ways, and I want it to be appreciated and used.

Have you had any reactions to the book that you especially enjoyed or were surprised by?

I’ve been buoyed by reactions from students and other universities. I’ve gotten emails from all over the world, saying “I read your book and I saw this device in a text I’m working on. Do you think it's an example of this?” And often I say that I do. I'm always elated because they have taken it to another level. You know we're always building on the shoulders of giants in our scholarship; a great scholar is never just an innovator—they're a renovator. One must take what's come before and work with it and then also innovate and build something new. This book has been a labor of love for many decades, and when I see other people taking those observations further and finding something new, there's nothing more rewarding than that.

Interview with Dr. Naomi B. Sokoloff on Since 1948: Israeli Literature in the Making

-Anna Learn

In October of 2020, Dr. Naomi Sokoloff in the NELC Department at the University of Washington, and Dr. Nancy E. Berg at Washington University in St. Louis published Since 1948: Israeli Literature in the Making, an edited volume of articles that take up the ever-contentious topic of Israeli literature. In the book, Drs. Sokoloff and Berg aim to further complicate the notion of “a unified singular narrative of Israeli literature,” and instead encourage an “enlarged view of the diversity and heterogeneity” of that corpus. 

By exploring the multilingual and transnational ways in which the canonical boundaries of Israeli literature have been “prodded, provoked, and imploded,” the collection of essays serves to “open up conversation about Israeli literature to multiple narrative strands.” Ultimately, Since 1948 posits Israeli literature as “a test case for considering the relevance of the category “national literature,” a question that would be of interest to any literary scholar in the present moment. 

I spoke with Dr. Sokoloff about the movement to reassess the boundaries of Israeli literature, the place of Hebrew in that literary corpus, and Dr. Sokoloff’s own ongoing work to challenge the conceptual frameworks that narrowly associate language with nation-state within the University of Washington.

  •  What was the initial impetus for writing Since 1948?

Israeli literature has evolved and transformed dramatically since the end of the twentieth century. No one can keep up entirely! My colleague Nancy E. Berg and I convened a symposium in 2018 to talk about this topic, because we wanted to learn more about contemporary trends while reassessing the literary history and trajectories of Israeli culture since the founding of the state in 1948.

  •  Why is the distinction between Israeli and Hebrew literature so important in this book?

Hebrew literature is some three thousand years old, and it has grown and developed throughout the millennia. Modern Hebrew literature emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries. Until recently, Israeli writing was usually viewed as a new aspect of Hebrew literature. However,  writers in Israel have composed texts not only in Hebrew, but in Yiddish, Russian, Arabic, English, Polish, Amharic, and other languages, as well. And, while Hebrew for millennia was primarily a sacred language and a written language of Jews in many parts of the world, in Israel both Jews and non-Jews speak Hebrew on a daily basis, they use it for all sorts of secular purposes, and they publish regularly in it.

  • How do you and the contributors seek to redefine the concept of nation through this volume?

Israeli literature can serve as a good test case for boundaries of national literatures. It invites us to ask: is a national literature defined by geography, by language, by a shared cultural history, by common values, by something else?

  •  How is Israeli literature relevant for the broader fields of world literature, or comparative literary studies? 

As a young, supple literature constantly emulating, wrestling with, or resisting outside influences -- from Russian modernisms to magic realism, to contemporary American hip-hop lyrics, or to models for the awarding of literary prizes -- Israeli literature can help scholars think about transnational literary trends and about how creative ideas circulate across cultures. At the University of Washington, I and other colleagues in the literature departments have been working to build curriculum that is transnational

in scope and that highlights translation studies and the study of languages and cultures in contact. Intellectually, the Humanities both in North America and elsewhere are questioning conceptual frameworks that narrowly associate language with nation-state. Since 1948 speaks directly to such issues.

  • What resources does the book provide for professors or students of literature, whether within or without the field of Israeli literature?

Each essay in the book could stand alone, and so each essay could be valuable for readers interested in a particular topic. Some of the essays deal with themes, some with genres, some with minority voices and how they interact with mainstream voices. Together, the essays suggest cross-connections among the multiple factors that shape Israeli literature.

  •  What are the main takeaways you would like readers to get from reading Since 1948?

Hebrew is a fascinating language that has undergone a remarkable revitalization in the modern era. One hundred and thirty years ago, it was not a spoken vernacular. One hundred years ago, some tens of thousands of people were speaking Hebrew. Today there are approximately 12,000,000.

We are witnesses to a rapidly evolving language and literature. How have they grown? What role has Hebrew literature played in nation building and in cultural self-definition? In what ways does this literature connect with or overlap with or challenge or undermine or otherwise relate to literature composed in other languages in Israel? In short: Israeli literature cannot be defined by a homogenized national narrative. Quoting from the book, let me conclude: "it offers an exemplar of a culture forged by both local and global forces and influences. Israeli literature is not a minor regional literature, but one that is transnational, multilingual, and worthy of global attention." 

New Faculty Searches

-Stephanie Selover

The NELC department was privileged this year to conduct two searches for new faculty. The first was for a Full-Time Assistant Teaching Professor in the area of Biblical Hebrew and Ancient Near Eastern Studies. We were pleased to offer to the position to Dr. Kathryn McConaughy Medill, who will be joining us from the Department of History at Eastern University, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Biblical Hebrew and Ancient Humanities, as well as an Instructor in Ancient Humanities at Coventry Christian Schools, in Pennsylvania. Dr. Medill received her PhD from Johns Hopkins University, graduating in 2020, with her doctoral thesis entitled You Will Know Me by My Writing: The Scribes’ Choice of Goal-Marking Strategies in Biblical Hebrew in the Light of Social, Historical, and Linguistic Correlates. She is skilled in reading and translating Biblical Hebrew, Akkadian, Aramaic, Greek, Hittite, Latin, Sumerian and Ugaritic, and considers herself to be both a linguist and historian, with work focusing on the placing the writers of the Hebrew Bible in their Ancient Near eastern sociohistorical context. Dr. Medill has published on aspects of Biblical Hebrew in journals including the Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages, and the Bulletin of the American Schools Oriental Research, as well as a chapter in the monograph An Educator’s Handbook for Teaching about the Ancient World. Courses for which she  will be responsible include the first-year sequence of Biblical Hebrew,  Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Introduction to the Ancient Near East, and classes on a variety of other topics. We all look forward to Dr. Medill joining the NELC community in the fall of 2022.

 Our second position is for an Assistant Professor in Jewish Cultures, Literature and Languages of the Eastern Mediterranean, with a focus on the Sephardic experience. Candidates with expertise in particular with the written and print cultures, literatures, and/or languages of Jews in the Ottoman Empire and broader Middle East were sought, with a special emphasis on research and teaching experience in Ladino language and culture. We are all eagerly awaiting the final results of this search, and look forward to greeting our new colleague in the fall of 2022. Check back here for any updates!

In Loving Memory of Walter G. Andrews (1939-2020)

Walter G. Andrews, Research Professor Emeritus of Turkish and Ottoman Studies, died on May 31, 2020 at the age of 81. Walter had received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Near Eastern Studies (1970) under the supervision of eminent Ottoman Turkish literary historian John Stewart-Robinson. His yet to be published dissertation with the title “The Tezkere-i Şu'arā of Latifi as a source for the critical evaluation of Ottoman poetry is a major intervention to the fields of manuscript research, philologically critical reading of premodern sources, and literary theory in Ottoman Turkish Studies. Walter started his position as the first Turkish and Ottoman Studies professor of the UW’s newly established NELC department, having been invited to this position by the founder of the department, Prof. Farhat Ziadeh, on Professor Jere Bacharach’s recommendation. He moved to Seattle with his wife Melinda and their two daughters, Pam (Sheffield) and Lisa (Stillwell) to become a significant member of the Seattle community. From early on, Walter took part in the development of Turkish Studies in the US with his contributions to major scholarly as well as popular journals. He was also among the founders of American Association for Teachers of Turkic Languages. 

With his first two monographs, An Introduction to Ottoman Poetry (1976) and Poetry’s Voice, Society’s Song: Ottoman Lyric Poetry (1985), and many articles in major journals, Walter reintroduced Ottoman Turkish poetry into the larger fields of literature and history. These works were the first major English language commentaries on Ottoman literary tradition published in more than 60 years. In its time Poetry’s Voice was distinguished from among other brilliant works on Ottoman literary texts by its analytical interrogation of the function of Turkish poetry among the Ottoman elite. His collaborations with Prof. Mehmet Kalpaklı (Bilkent University, Turkey), who had completed his dissertation under the supervision of Walter, culminated in an original anthology, Ottoman Lyric Poetry: An Anthology, (with Najaat Black, 1995, 2006) and a major investigation on literary discourses and their role in gender system and sex, The Age of Beloveds: Love and the Beloved in Early-Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society (2005). Ottoman Lyric Poetry is a brilliant anthology of poetry, which provides a series of readable, enjoyable translations with various supportive material, transcriptions and manuscript copies of poems along with biographical information about poets to readers of English. It was his passion to translate from Ottoman poetry, yet Walter also loved Modern Turkish poetry and he published selections from Hilmi Yavuz and Ataol Behramoğlu’s poems and translated from many other modern Turkish poets for anthologies and journals. 

From early on, collaborating with his colleagues, such as NELC Emeritus Prof. Nicholas Heer, Walter contributed to the nascent field of Digital Humanities. He established various collaborative projects that involved undergraduate and graduate student teams, such as the Ottoman Textual Archive Project (OTAP, est. 1986) in collaboration with Prof. Mehmet Kalpaklı and Dr. Stacy Waters, which later evolved into Newbook Digital Texts with Dr. Sarah Ketchley and Dr. Mary Childs. Recently, Walter was working on the Svoboda Diaries Project with Dr. Annie T. Chen. In 2017, he launched Many Poems of Baki Project with a conference organized at the University of Washington in collaboration with many scholars in the field of Ottoman Studies, including Prof. Selim S. Kuru, Dr. Sarah Ketchley and Dr. Gulsah Taskin (Boğaziçi University, Turkey) as co-directors. Walter published various articles on these projects and strived for their sustainability. He developed pedagogical methods for digital project management. These projects continue keeping Walter’s legacy in the digital humanities alive. 

Walter was a true educator. Apart from his work with undergraduates, he mentored many graduate students at the University of Washington and elsewhere. He collaborated with Prof. Selim S. Kuru to supervise several Ph.D. committees. Erdağ Göknar, Didem Havlioğlu, Zeynep Seviner, Murat Umut İnan, Sevim Kebeli, Elizabeth Nolte, Oscar Aguirre-Mandujano have become scholars of literature and literary history. He also supported many junior faculty members through collaborative work, such as Dr. Ozgen Felek (Yale University) and Dr. Ayse Dalyan (American University in Northern Cyprus). Walter was the first recipient of the Lighthouse Award by the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan as an alumni in recognition of his dedication to the field and his original work that has served as a beacon to the scholarly community in Near Eastern Studies. His mentorship was awarded a Middle Eastern Studies Association Mentoring Award in 2008, he received an Undergraduate Research Mentor Award at the University of Washington in 2018. He also received an Order of Merit of the Republic of Turkey in 2016, and a Long Time Service Award from the Turkish American Cultural Association (TACAWA) in the same year for his services in promotion of Turkish and Ottoman culture and literature. After his death, American Association for Teachers of Turkic named their Ottoman Turkish Translation Award after him. Dr. Özgen Felek compiled Walter’s published and unpublished popular articles in a volume, Walter G. Andrews: Writer, Poet, Playwright, Unitarian Universalist

NELC is committed to the legacy Walter G. Andrews left behind as a model for our students and faculty. NELC’s Turkish and Ottoman Studies Program is going to launch “Walter G. Andrews Memorial Lecture Series” to introduce young scholar’s first published project in the field of Ottoman Turkish Literary Studies. Recently, Emeritus Professor of History, one time NELC interim chair, Prof. Jere Bacharach donated NELC a work of calligraphy by Walter G. Andrews dated 1969, when Walter has been working on developing his skills in Ottoman Turkish calligraphy and preparing a course on the topic. Prof. Hamza Zafer identified the couplet as an Arabic verse from the thirteenth-century Anatolian Turkish poet Yunus Emre that translates as: “We have knowledge as inheritance from the living who never dies”. The knowledge we inherited from Walter about how to be a true scholar, generous colleague, compassionate mentor, and a great human being will be a guiding light for our department.

This article is a modified version of Selim S. Kuru, “Walter Andrews (1939-2020)” Journal of Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 7:2 (2020) 175-178