Imagining Europe as a Realm of Transfiguration


  • Deniz Göktürk University of California, Berkeley


translation, Europe, visual media, Turkish literature, Orientalism, borders, film


This essay considers Bilge Karasu’s novel The Garden of Departed Cats (Göçmüş kediler bahçesi, 1979) as a dynamic text reconceptualizing Europe through the transfiguration of humans and animals, porous borders, East-West dichotomies, inside-outside structurations, local-foreign designations, and questions of translatability. Göktürk, a film and media scholar and translator of Karasu into German, examines both the virtual location of Europe and the function of cinema within the novel, arenas through which Karasu refigures geographic positionings and identities. Because of its evocative mobile depictions, Karasu’s text operates for Göktürk as a cinematic text, one in implicit conversation with Walerian Browczyk’s Blanche (1972) and Werner Herzog’s Gesualdo: Death for Five Voices (1995).

Author Biography

Deniz Göktürk, University of California, Berkeley

Göktürk was born in Istanbul, graduated from Deutsche Schule Istanbul, studied in Konstanz/Germany, Norwich/UK, and Freie Universität Berlin, where she received her Ph.D. in 1995. She joined the German Department at Berkeley in fall 2001, after having taught at the University of Southampton/UK for six years. Her publications include a book on literary and cinematic imaginations of America in early twentieth-century German culture: Künstler, Cowboys, Ingenieure: Kultur- und mediengeschichtliche Studien zu deutschen Amerika-Texten 1912-1920 (1998) as well as seminal articles on migration, culture, and cinema. She co-edited an anthology of contemporary Turkish literature, Jedem Wort gehört ein Himmel(1991, with Zafer Senocak) and translated novels by Aras Ören and Bilge Karasu. She is co-editor of The German Cinema Book(published by the British Film Institute in 2002, co-edited with Tim Bergfelder and Erica Carter). Most recently, she published the volume Orienting Istanbul: Cultural Capital of Europe? (2010), co-edited with Levent Soysal and İpek Türeli. Göktürk has been coordinator of the Multicultural Germany Project and has organized workshops and conferences such as “Rethinking Diversity in Europe and the USA” and “Goodbye Germany? Migration, Culture, and the Nation State.” Germany in Transit. Nation and Migration, 1955-2005, a co-edited sourcebook growing out of this project, was published in 2007 by University of California Press. An updated German edition Transit Deutschland: Debatten zu Nation und Migration is forthcoming from Konstanz Univesity Press in fall 2010. She is one of the co-founders of TRANSIT, the electronic journal launched by the Berkeley German Department in September 2005.  She teaches courses and graduate seminars on: “Transnational Cinemas,” “The Global Imaginary,” “German Cinema: Space, Borders, and Mobility,” “Multicultural Germany,” “Travelling Auteurs: Werner Herzog,” “Kafka and Modernism,” “Hybrid Cultures: Jews and Turks in Germany,” “German Orientalism,” “Comedy and Community,” and “Media, Spectatorship, and Place.”