Ozlem Ezer

October-November 2014

Ozlem Ezer believes reading and writing are inseparable parts of her identity. She studied English Language and Literature at Bogazici University in Istanbul, and received an M.A. and Ph.D. in women’s and gender studies at METU, Ankara and York University in Toronto, respectively.

Her deepest passion is for studying women’s lives in their own words, which has led her to the intersection of academic and creative writing. She has developed an expertise in life writing as a result, and her interest in recording and capturing lives significantly shapes her academic and personal writing.

Through her archival work, she focuses on marginalized texts and uses them as tools to criticize and contextualize canon formation in both English and Turkish literature. Additionally, she composes short biographies of feminist figures, such as Şirin Tekeli, in collaboration with them, to restore agency to their own narratives. She is particularly interested in recording the oral histories of women in underprivileged regions of Turkey and Northern Cyprus. In general, she finds Mediterranean cultures fascinating, and is eager to collaborate with others who share similar research interests. Outside of her academic life, she has volunteered and worked in a professional capacity with women’s shelters in both Turkey and the United States.

Ozlem has been the recipient of funding and support from assorted international institutions, including the Arte Diem International Festival in Brussels, the DAAD, Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, the Lisbon Consortium, Swedish Research Institute, Gexcel (Center for Gender Excellence), European Summer School in the Digital Humanities, and the Department of Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies at York University.

Her work has been published in national and international publications, and her book, Dogu, Bati ve Kadin was published in 2012. She has taught English Literature, Sociology and English as a Second Language at various universities since 1997. As of 2007, she has taught courses in literature and literary theory at the Middle East Technical University in Northern Cyprus.

In the future, she hopes to teach courses on travel and life writing, representations of women and Orientalism, and contemporary Turkish women’s literature. She believes in the healing effects of cooking, nature walks, and sharing daily stores with friends.

Fellow’s Statement

I have already missed the smiling and supportive WISC women. Was there any day that I skipped remembering Virginia Woof’s A Room of One’s Own? WISC was the embodiment of the simple yet still so-hard-to-achieve facts expressed in 1929: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Granted that I did not have much money and did not own the deed of the Room I was staying in, but it did not matter. It worked even better since as WISC fellows we did not need to worry about the maintenance of the house or hosting people which the real owners of houses must take into consideration.

I have changed and got empowered in six weeks. I felt appreciated. My work was considered precious and the attempts of creations are respected even before they came to an existence. When a person feels this genuine trust from others, she is already a better human being. It radiates from her.

It has been many years that I have wanted to write fiction and could not find the time or the courage to do so. In my country, writers are mostly under constant surveillance and it gets only worse if they happen to be feminist women. What WISC provided me was time and space. I had the time to work on multiple projects, listen to my inner voices for as many hours a day as I choose. I had a room of my own. My only distractions were chirping of the birds, a weekly trip to the farmers market and taking short hikes here and there. The numerous works of art are spread all over the city, and the colorful art galleries on the Canyon Road… Visiting them can be tricky since one cannot decide whether they are inspirational or distracting for your current work at WISC:)

One of the many great things about WISC is that they do not demand or expect to see any immediate results of our work or creation unlike some other fellowships which are based on measurements and assessments. How can one possibly measure the moments or cracks of opening up one’s mind and soul?”

– Ozlem Ezer