AboutVeli N. Yashin is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. He holds a PhD in Arabic and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, and he is the winner of the 2013 Horst Frenz Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association.
Yashin’s work focuses on modern Arabic and Turkish literatures and more broadly engages the theoretical implications of the complex entanglement between cultural and political representation. His current book project, tentatively titled Disorienting Figures: The Rhetoric of Sovereignty between the Arab and the Turk, argues for the disorienting force of new techniques of writing and reading in the emergence of literary modernity in Arabic and Turkish and the transformations of Ottoman sovereignty in its long-nineteenth century. Bringing together examples of fiction, poetry, drama, travelogue, literary history and criticism, political edicts and commentary published in Arabic and Turkish, Disorienting Figures analyzes emergent conceptualizations of literary and authorial authority in tandem with critical reconsiderations of Ottoman sovereignty. Through its comparative historical and theoretical frame, this project uncovers an hitherto unstudied archive around questions of authority and representation to argue for the entanglement of the rhetorical figuration of the sovereign with the political reconfiguration of the author. In doing so, Disorienting Figures not only shows the fundamental role of literature in the making of modern politics in the Ottoman Empire, but also reveals obscured currents of cultural and political exchange between Arabic and Turkish in light of a shared Ottoman past—a past whose unsettled legacies still inform issues of cultural and political representation in the Middle East today.
Yashin’s research and teaching interests include the post-Ottoman world; the relationship between area studies and literary scholarship; conceptions of authority and sovereignty; legacies of German romanticism; histories and future(s) of philology; and Mediterranean studies.