Short Literature Project: İstanbul
(details below map)
Prior to 2019
I first became interested in short literary forms while writing my dissertation (2006-2011) on medicine and surgery in sixteenth century Europe. Doctors and surgeons relied on maxims, commonplaces, proverbs, epigrams, aphorisms, and short lyric poems to diagnose certain ailments, remember procedures, concoct herbal medicines, and treat patients.
By the early seventeenth century, the introduction of visually accurate images and printed books changed these once oral records to a visual art that went well beyond health care professionals. Anthologies, miscellanies, and printed collections created a material push to collect and print as many of these short forms as possible. The anthology, as Gary Saul Morson puts it, "became their home" (The Aphorism 410). But I was skeptical of this bookish knowledge.
Since 2019, I have taught several courses on the media and material of literature as well as short literary forms. I've collected a growing list of short genre that can be found here. In addition, I've been documenting literary forms as they appear in public locations. Rather than collect these examples in a traditional anthology, I've created a field guide to short verbal expressions in their lived habitats. A field guide taxonomy allows for the inclusion of material, media, and location to the traditional focus on great authors and established genres. Thus far, the project has presented three particular areas of research:
1) Literary criticism:
The focus on public graffiti, street art, posters, signs, stickers, plaques, monuments or other verbal traces allows for an expansion of the concept of “short literature” to include their lived habitats.
2) Urban rhythms:
Short verbal expressions that appear in public offer insights into a neighborhood's unique rhythms, whether healthy or pathological. Cultural mapping of these short forms draws attention to slight (or radical) changes in the material of social, cultural, commercial, political, public health, and economic conditions.
3) Digital landscaping:
By mapping examples of short genres in public, I present a literary landscape of several neighborhoods that borrows "linguistic landscaping" techniques from socio-linguistics to include quantitative data along side qualitative interpretations.
"Mapping Maxims: A Literary Landscape of İstanbul, Turkey." Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA). Purdue University, 10/2022.
“Teaching Short Genres: Experimenting with Mobile Annotations Outside the Classroom.” Electronic Literature Association, Como, Italy. 06/2022.
Jaworski, Adam, and Thurlow Crispin, eds. (2011). Semiotic Landscapes: Language, Image, Space. New York: Continuum.
Lefebvre, Henri. (2004). Rhythmanalysis: Space, time and everyday life (G. Moore & S. Elden, Trans.). London; New York, NY: Continuum.
Morson, Gary Saul. (2003). “The Aphorism: Fragments from the Breakdown of Reason.” New Literary History, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 409–29.