American Studies in the Republic of Turkey: A Journey Unfulfilled
The story of American Studies in Turkey dates from the mid-Fifties when the Fulbright Commission appointed Sidney Burks to teach in the English Language and Literature department of Ankara University. Later in that decade an American Literature sub-division was established in the English department of the same institution with İrfan Şahinbaş, a noted translator and academic in the chair, who held the job until his retirement in 1982. Until the mid-Sixties, the fledgling program was supported by visiting Fulbright scholars; in contrast, many local professors believed that the idea of an independent department remained unthinkable (Aytür 60). In 1966 a graduate program was established in Ankara – a decade later the two departments (English and American Literature) were re-organized into separate entitles, with the American department officially named the Department of American Language and Literature (Amerikan Dili ve Edebiyatı Bölümü). In 1982 a new university act reorganized foreign literature departments into divisions of Western Languages and Literatures, with English and American Literature transformed into anabilim dalı (social science branches). This lasted for six years, when the American department was transformed into the Department of American Culture and Literrature (Amerikan Kültür ve Edebiyatı), even though many staff members were left confused as to whether they were involved in an American Studies enterprise.
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