Dr. Elif Guler presents gender study at JMU, publishes pedagogical unit for the American Society for the History of Rhetoric

Dr. Elif Guler, Assistant Professor of Professional Writing in the Department of English and Modern Languages, recently presented a study at the 2019 Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference (James Madison University) as part of its session entitled, “Feminist Foremothers.” Dr. Guler’s study, “The Sultanate of Women: Portraying the Rhetoric of the Mighty Mother, Mahpeyker Kosem Sultan,” focused on literary and popular portrayals of Kosem Sultan in the framework of a nearly 130-year period (16th-17th century CE) when the prominent women of the Ottoman Imperial Harem wielded extraordinary political influence over the male sultans and effectively ruled the Empire. Initiated to the Harem as a concubine of Greek origin (named Anastasia), Kosem Sultan later became the favorite and the legal wife of Sultan Ahmed I—who was the one to name her Kösem (meaning “the sheep leading the herd”)–due to her leadership and rhetorical skills. When her son Murat ascended to the throne, Kosem became the Valide Sultan (the highest palace position after that of the sultan) and maintained her regency for the reigning period of three Ottoman sultans (1623-1651). Kosem’s rhetorical roles included not only advising the sultan, but also serving as the acting Sultan, lobbying with various imperial factions, guarding successors of the throne, and even maintaining the social order. Her literary and popular portrayals render Kosem’s rhetorical skills and actions not only as essential to her maintenance of the “Valide Sultan” status but also as a key to her livelihood in the Ottoman Harem.

Previously, Dr. Guler also had a historical and pedagogical review published online by the American Society for the History of Rhetoric: “Turkish Rhetoric at the Intersections of Three Formative Texts.” Dr. Guler’s piece was published, alongside those by prominent scholars of diversity and women’s rhetoric, as part of the organization’s “Diversifying the Teaching of the History of Rhetoric Series.”
From a replica of the 8th-century Orkhon inscriptions (Kül Tigin monument)

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