The Turkish and Ottoman Studies Program at the University of Washington promote intellectual dialogue and scholarship to provide a deeper, interdisciplinary, and critical understanding of Turkey through a rigorous program in language, literature, history, politics, and culture of the modern Turkey and the Ottoman Empire as well as sharing and preserving the ethnic heritage of Turkey through projects that involve local, national and international communities to advance mutual understanding.
The Turkish and Ottoman Studies Program aims to establish an endowed lectureship position that will preserve the instruction of Turkish language and culture and will support a distinguished faculty member in their pursuit of excellence in scholarly research, teaching, and outreach.
Who are we?
Our program was founded in 1968 by our research professor Walter Andrews, who was hired by the University of Washington that year, while he was working on his dissertation in Istanbul. At the time, Walter was the basketball coach of Orhan Pamuk in Robert College in Istanbul, who in Walter’s words “opened the way for him to become an Ottomanist”. Walter taught Ottoman and Turkish literature from 1968 until his retirement from a Research professorship, which he still holds. He has published several books, translations, and articles on Ottoman literature and literary theory in Turkish and English including the Ottoman lyric poetry: An Anthology.
Prof. Selim Kuru started teaching as an Acting Assistant Professor in 1999 in the Turkish and Ottoman Studies Program at UW. Since 2015, he is the director of the program. His work focuses on Ottoman 14th-16th centuries Anatolian literary history, genres with respect to the topic of love and its place in the elite Ottoman society. Prof. Kuru is actively involved in the Graduate School Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Near East and Middle East Programs. He is among the founders of the Ottoman Studies Foundation and runs the intensive Ottoman and Turkish Summer Program in Cunda, Ayvalik, Turkey where he has been teaching Ottoman Turkish paleography.
Prof. Reşat Kasaba, an expert in the history and politics of the Middle East, is the Director of Jackson School and Chair of Stanley D. Golub in International Studies. Kasaba has taught undergraduate and graduate students at the School for over 30 years and is the recipient of a UW Distinguished Teaching Award. His courses cover a wide range of topics including economic history, state-society relations, migration, ethnicity and nationalism, urban history in the Middle East and world history. Recently, he has been researching the role of education in the formation of modern Turkish identity in the twentieth century. Dr. Kasaba is regularly featured in local and regional media for insights into some of the world’s most pressing issues, and is a monthly commentator on Voice of America (Turkey). He is currently President of the Association for Professional Schools of International Affairs and is a board member of the Middle East Studies Association of North America. Dr. Kasaba has written and edited seven books and over 40 articles and opinion pieces.
The program has grown stronger most recently with the addition of area studies faculty, Dr. Melike Yucel-Koc, and the enhancement of the Turkish language program. These developments have resulted in greater student interest and the establishment of new research projects. Dr. Yucel-Koc got her Ph.D. in 2015, specializing in Foreign & Second Language Education. Currently, she leads the Turkish Language Curriculum Project, a unique undertaking that aims to create a foreign and heritage language curriculum that aligns with national language teaching standards such as ACTFL and TESOL. Her current research on Turkish language learners and their needs supports this objective. Our program would be a pioneer among the other Turkish language institutions in the U.S. with this project. Dr. Yucel-Koc also leads the Oral History of Turkish Americans in Pacific Northwest Project, which aims to create a digital archive based on interviews with the Turkish Americans who migrated to Washington and greater Pacific Northwest area from Turkey.
The Ottoman Text Archive Project, led by our research professor Walter Andrews, aims to create a vast collection of documents crucial to understanding the history and cultural heritage of the Ottoman Empire accessible in a central web-based text archive.
- The Svoboda Diaries Newbook Project, an activity of the University of Washington Ottoman Texts Archive Project (OTAP), is engaged in the web-based publication, in both web and print-on-demand formats (the "newbook formats"), of 45 Svoboda diaries and transcriptions of Svoboda diaries that have been digitized by the Digital Initiatives Program at the University of Washington Libraries.
- The Baki project, headed by Prof. Selim S. Kuru, is a multi-year collaborative international project aims to create digital tools or adopt existing tools for application to identifying and visualizing the history and evolution of a large manuscript tradition.
The Turkish Language Curriculum Project, headed by our lecturer Dr. Melike Yucel-Koc, aims to create a foreign and heritage language curriculum that aligns with national language teaching standards (ACTFL & TESOL). Her current research on Turkish language learners and their needs supports this objective. TOSP at UW would be a pioneer among the other Turkish language institutions in the U.S. with this project.
The Oral History of Turkish Americans in the Pacific Northwest, led by our lecturer Dr. Melike Yucel-Koc, aims to create a digital archive based on interviews with the Turkish Americans who migrated to Washington and greater Pacific Northwest area from Turkey.
The Student FLTA Experience at UW
Yağmur Damla Elmas – FLTA 2017-2018
Which years did you serve as FLTA?
I served as FLTA at the University of Washington in the academic year 2017-2018.
What impact did the Fulbright experience have on you?
Although I already had a multicultural background, as I had the chance of living and traveling abroad starting from an early age, I can still say that my Fulbright experience expanded my cultural awareness in the way that I was not only a Fulbright FLTA grantee, but I was also the cultural ambassador of my own country throughout the academic year 2017-2018.
How was your FLTA experience? - What do you most often tell people about your Fulbright experience?
Well, it’s been almost 5 years since I came back from the U.S., but I still seem to have a lot to talk about my Fulbright experience. The very first thing I would love to mention is the worldwide family Fulbright gave me and no matter the distance, it’s priceless to have people who I can count on. UW & Turkish & Ottoman Studies Program staff helped me with everything possible since day one. Melike Yücel Koç and Selim Kuru were always there for me and supported me both academically and emotionally. I still remember our very first gathering as a team which was in the first few weeks of my arrival and where Melike had a birthday surprise for me, and I couldn’t have been happier.
The second thing I talk about the most is how I re-learned my mother tongue. With every single item I taught in Turkish, I realized how beautiful my language is. As an ESL/EFL teacher, teaching Turkish at UW provided me with remarkable professional growth.
As the UW & Turkish & Ottoman Studies Program and the Turkish community in Seattle were very active in organizing cultural events, the contribution to my life was not only professional but also social. I had the chance to meet Turkish professionals working and/or studying in Seattle. As an extrovert myself, I wanted to do a favor in return and that is why I opened the Turkish American Student Club at UW and gathered people from similar backgrounds together.
Being part of the “Turkey in Seattle Oral History Project” was both fun and teaching. While listening to the recordings of the interviews, I did not only enjoy listening to various Turkish accents but also learned a lot about the history of my home country, Turkey.
As a whole, I can sum up my experience and feelings with this Turkish saying “anlatılmaz, yaşanır”, meaning “it cannot be described but only experienced”.