Prof. Laurent Mignon

Biographic information

Laurent Mignon is Associate Professor of Turkish at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Saint Antony’s College. He also collaborates to “New Religiosities in Turkey: Reenchantment in a Secularized Muslim Country?”, a collaborative research project of the Orient Institut in Istanbul and the Paris-based Centre d’études turques, ottomanes, balkaniques et centrasiatiques (CETOBAC). His research interests include modern Turkish literature and intellectual history, minority literature, socialist literature, new religious movements in Turkey, biblical themes in Turkish literature and modern Jewish intellectual history.

From 2002 to 2011 he taught at the Department of Turkish Literature at Bilkent University in Ankara. His most recent book is Hüzünlü Özgürlük: Yahudi Edebiyatı ve Düşüncesi Üzerine Yazılar (A Sad State of Freedom: Writings on Jewish Literature and Thought, 2014).

The haiku Between East–East & West

An Inquiry into the Entangled History of a Buddhistic Poetic Genre in Modern Turkey

The project examines the translation of literary works from a Japanese Buddhist cultural (“Buddhistic”) context in Turkey via Western languages. It will take a close look at the extensive and entangled networks of both officials and private individuals and groups in Turkey, France, Germany and the English-speaking world. The aim of the study is to come to a clearer understanding of the dissemination of political, social, cultural and religious ideas after WWI. The period between the two world wars was an era of increased interest for Japanese literature in Europe. Literati and scholars in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and elsewhere transferred Japanese literature and literary forms to Europe. Not only did they promote the translation of literary works, but poets and critics advocated the appropriation of some of the short forms of Japanese poetry. A reflection of this literary and scholarly trend was to be seen in Turkey where, after the establishment of the republic, French literature continued to be a major source of influence. The focus will be on a case study: the processing of a characteristic short form of Japanese poetry, the “haiku”, in Turkish creative and academic literatures via its European or American versions, because no other poetic form has shaped modern literature and the “image” of Japan as profoundly as this epigrammatic genre.

Selected recent publications

  • “A Pilgrim’s Progress: Armenian and Kurdish Literatures in Turkish and the Rewriting of Literary History”, Patterns of Prejudice 48/2 (May 2014): 182-200.
  • “French in Ottoman Turkey: ‘The Language of the Afflicted Peoples’?” in European Francophonie: The Social, Political and Cultural History of an International Prestige Language (Edited by V. Rjéoutski, G. Argent and D. Offord), Bern, Oxford, etc.: Peter Lang, 2014: 405-434.
  • “Turkey” in Tagore: One Hundred Years of Global Reception (Edited by M. Kämpchen and I. Bangha), New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2014: 162-174.
  • “Judeo-Turkish” in Handbook of Jewish Languages (edited by L. Kahn and A.D. Rubin), Leiden: Brill, 2015, 634-640.