Join us for a Department of Turkish Literature Seminar:

“The Poetics of Space and Memory in Sâmiha Ayverdi’s İbrahim Efendi Konağı”

by Dr. Esra Almas

Tuesday, March 30 2021, 5 pm

Zoom Meeting Info:

Meeting ID : 970 9706 1840
Passcode : 856917


A prominent and prolific writer, an influential public speaker, and a female Sufi leader who actively took part in the cultural life of the Republic, Sâmiha Ayverdi (1905-1993) was an exceptional figure whose life spanned the fraught transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic. A major theme in her work is Istanbul, the seat of the Empire and its lost civilization, which allowed her to blend her family history with her Sufi training and explore the many facets of loss and longing. Ayverdi’s most popular work, İbrahim Efendi Konağı, (The Mansion of İbrahim Efendi, 1964), a family saga of epic proportions of the house of İbrahim Effendi, president of the Treasury Commission during the final years of the Empire, addresses these concerns on an intimate level. Starting with the meticulous accounts of the everyday household practices of her aristocratic ancestors, the narrative proceeds as an account of how personal greed and petty rivalries destroyed the family fortune, echoing the collapse of the Empire. A family history, an ode to a lost civilization, and a praise of Sufism, The Mansion conjoins multiple lines of experience. This talk traces Ayverdi’s artful account of everyday practices and household rhythms to explore the links between the poetics of space and memory within the tradition of Istanbul’s literary cityscape.


Esra Almas is an Assistant Professor of English Literature at Istanbul Sehir University. She completed her PhD in the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam, on Istanbul’s literary cityscape in the work of the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk. She has worked as a translator, moderator and organizer for PEN International, Amsterdam University Cities Project, and The Netherlands Institute in Turkey. She has taught at the University of Amsterdam, Leiden University, and at Şehir University and was a research fellow at the Katz Center of Advanced Judaic Studies at UPenn. Almas has published extensively on autobiographical narratives on Istanbul’s modernist literary cityscape, melancholy and exile. Her current research focuses on the intersections of diaspora, memory studies, and minor literatures.