Cccc 2015 workshop: Deep Rewards and Serious Risks: Working Through International Higher Education Writing Research Exchanges, Tampa, Florida, March 2015

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CCCC 2015 workshop: Deep Rewards and Serious Risks: Working Through International Higher Education Writing Research Exchanges, Tampa, Florida, March 2015

Name: Elif Guler, Ph.D. (; Iklim Goksel, Ph.D. (

Research Title: Teaching Turkish Rhetoric through Ataturk’s Nutuk

Institution: Elif Guler is an assistant professor of English at Longwood University; Iklim Goksel is an independent scholar and a part-time lecturer at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne.

Institutional Description:

Elif Guler: I am assistant professor of Rhetoric and Professional Writing at Longwood University, which is a four-year, liberal arts public institution in south central Virginia, dedicated to the development of citizen leaders who are prepared to make positive contributions to the common good of society. We draw upon this vision and the mission of the University in the second part of our research, where we will investigate how non-western rhetorical traditions can provide students in the US context with tools for public rhetorics in the writing classroom so that they can move beyond the demands of academic writing and become critical citizens.

Iklim Goksel: I am an independent scholar and teach part-time in the women's studies program at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Based on the premise that non-western rhetorics can provide students with new forms of self-expression and critical citizenship, I am a proponent of introducing Turkish rhetoric as a new model that can be utilized in composition studies as well as in interdisciplinary fields such as women’s studies.

Both scholars are originally from Turkey and have completed part of their literacy education in Turkey. Therefore, both scholars have been exposed to writing instruction in the Turkish rhetorical tradition.


Belagat: In Turkish, the term means good speech and the ability to speak persuasively; a scientific inquiry into speech arts; the art of giving an account of a subject matter thoroughly without leaving the audience confused, in need of asking a question or making a comment; deep meanings embedded in language (The Turkish Language Association). Additionally, belagat is also considered as the foundation of the art of hitabe, the art of speaking influentially.

Kutadgu Bilig: Written by Yusuf Has Hacib in the 11th century and referred to as the first work of Islamic Turkish literature, Kutadgu Bilig is an extensive poem written in the mesnevi/masnavi style that is concerned with the happiness of the masses and instructs extensively on how to use language as well as on ideas regarding morality, law, politics, social issues and rule of the state.

The Orhon Inscriptions: Written in the old Turkic runic alphabet by the Göktürks in the Orhon valley in Mongolia, these inscriptions provide an account of the establishment of the Göktürk Empire, their social and political conflicts with the Chinese, their resilience against Chinese invasions, and their military triumphs in securing their independence from them.

Key Theorists and Frames:

The review in the main text of the draft below synthesizes some of the main perspectives from the Turkish and American rhetorical traditions that guide our work. It is a bit hard to emphasize some and leave out the rest in this section, so please review the draft below for the synthesis of the ideas and the schools of thought we draw upon. Here are just a few snapshots of the main ideas that we build upon in our study:

Over the course of the past several decades, the struggle between the the disciplines of composition and literature has been a topic of discussion among scholars such as Michelle Ballif, D. Diane Davis, Roxanne Mountford in ‘Women’s Ways of Making It in Rhetoric and Composition’, Winifred Bryan Horner in ‘Composition and Literature: Bridging the Gap’, Gary Tate in ‘A Place for Literature in Freshman Composition’, Erika Lindemann in ‘Freshman Composition: No Place for Literature’, Peter Elbow in ‘The Cultures of Literature and Composition: What Could Each Learn from the Other?’, Mark Richardson in ‘Who Killed Annabel Lee? Writing about Literature in the Composition Classroom’, Rosa Eberly in ‘Citizen Critics: Literary Public Spheres’, Sharon Crowley in ‘Literature and Composition: Not Separate but Certainly Unequal’, and Tony Scott in ‘Dangerous Writing: Understanding the Political Economy of Composition’. Looking at the tension in debates regarding writing about literature in the composition classroom, Mark Richardson asks if “college is to be an education in humane knowledge and the values of an examined life, or is it to be training for a successful career?” (279) We propose that by moving beyond the divide between literature and composition as in the Turkish model, students can be presented with a wealth of material in the writing classroom that they can read, analyze, and enjoy. Reading literary works, writing about poems, and exploring the relationship between ideas, context, culture, and language can connect students to larger issues in society, teach them about taking rhetorical action, and make the writing classroom a place of public rhetorics.

Also, in the introduction of the ‘Public Work of Rhetoric’, David J. Coogan and John M. Ackerman state that “required rhetoric courses in public speaking and writing are often the only exposure most students receive to those skills necessary for them to function as effective change agents. In these required courses, as well as in courses that emphasize writing within the discipline, the main attention usually is on the demands of academic writing over the needs of our communities, which need future civic leaders who are both informed and capable” (cite page number). We propose that introducing non-Western rhetorical practices and texts such as the Nutuk to the US context can enlarge our understanding of how our students can become explorers of ‘rhetorical geographies’ so that they can move beyond the demands of academic writing and become critical citizens. Turkish rhetoric is a source of inspiration for public rhetorics in the writing classroom because it promotes creativity, a skill necessary for critical citizenship, without relying on a systematic set of rules to be mastered.


The goal of this study is to gain an understanding of the ways in which non-western rhetorical traditions can provide students in the US context with tools for public rhetorics in the writing classroom. Starting with the premise that increasing globalization offers possibilities for innovative and alternative rhetorics, the study will introduce Turkish rhetorical traditions to students in the U.S. national context. Recent scholarship in composition studies places significant weight on issues regarding international writing pedagogies and addresses the wide diversity of experiences and assumptions in the field. Equally, recent discussions also seek new insight and resources to be able to transform the writing classroom into places of public rhetorics where writing is transformative and a social action. Hence, this project will introduce Turkish rhetorics into the US national context to help students explore and critically become aware of alternative rhetorical traditions. It will also invite them to use these alternative rhetorical models as new tools in engaging in public argument and participating in civic life.

Draft Research Text:

The Turkish Rhetorical Tradition and Teaching Turkish Rhetoric through Ataturk’s Nutuk


The first part of our study focuses on writing education in Turkey in comparison to Anglo-American rhetoric. We adopt a comparative perspective to teaching writing by presenting the rhetorical traditions and pedagogies of Turkey and how the Nutuk is used to teach those rhetorical principles in Turkey. We show the rhetorical models at play in Nutuk and how those models continue to influence writing instruction in the Turkish composition class.
The second part of our study will contribute to the arguments for transforming US higher education writing instruction through the instruction and analysis of an example of non-Western rhetoric. We will discuss a pedagogical experiment in an advanced rhetoric and writing class at a U.S. institution which will help reveal from American students’ perspective the affordances of introducing non-Western Turkish rhetoric into the Anglo-American writing classroom. We will explore how an extraordinary example of non-western rhetoric might enhance students’ notions of rhetoric across cultures in a US context.  Introducing the non-Western tradition through this crucial exemplar  could challenge the status quo in teaching American rhetoric and help us consider different forms of public rhetoric as civic action.  

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