Kalpakli, Mehmet 1964–

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Kalpakli, Mehmet 1964–


Born June 1, 1964, in Istanbul, Turkey; son of Ali Turgut and Ayse Kalpakli; married Suat Yesim Aktan, August 2, 1988; children: Ali Sinan. Education: Istanbul University and University of Washington, Ph.D., 1991.


Home—Ankara, Turkey. Office—Department of History, Faculty of Economic, Administrative, and Social Sciences (FEASS), Bilkent University, Ankara-Bilkent 06800, Turkey. E-mail—[email protected].


Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul, Turkey, lecturer, 1991-96; Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, assistant professor, 1996—, director of Center for Ottoman Studies, 2002—. University of Washington, Seattle, cofounder of Ottoman Text Editing Project (OTAP) at the Middle East Center.


(Editor and translator, with Walter G. Andrews and Najaat Black) Ottoman Lyric Poetry: An Anthology, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1997, expanded edition, University of Washington Press (Seattle, WA), 2006.

Osmanli divan siiri üzerine metinler, Yapi Kredi Yayinlari, Aralik (Istanbul, Turkey), 1999.

(With Walter G. Andrews) The Age of Beloveds: Love and the Beloved in Early-Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 2005.

Contributor of scholarly articles to collections, including Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia and Africa, Volume 1: Classical Traditions and Modern Meanings, E.J. Brill (New York, NY), 1996; Tarih ve Milliyetçilik: I. Ulusal Tarih Kongresi Bildirileri, Mersin, 1999; Acta Viennensia Ottomanica, [Vienna, Austria], 1999; The Poetry of Nizami Ganjavi: Love, Knowledge, Rhetoric, edited by Jerome W. Clinton and Kamran Talattof, Palgrave (New York, NY), 2000; Cultural Horizons: Festschrift in Honor of Professor Talat Halman, edited by Jayne L. Warner, [New York, NY], 2001; and Image of the "Turk" in Europe: 15th Century to the Present, edited by Mustafa Soykut, ISIS Press (Istanbul, Turkey), 2003. Contributor to journals, including Yasakmeyve, Dogu Bat?, Kitaplik, Kebikeç, Dil Dergisi, Gösteri, Sanat Dünyamiz, Varlik, Turkish Studies Association Bulletin, Toplumsal Tarih, Istanbul, and Bir.


In The Age of Beloveds: Love and the Beloved in Early-Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society, Mehmet Kalpakli and Walter G. Andrews "have collaborated to create a fascinating and challenging interpretation of Ottoman poetry as a window into sexual-social relations in the East and West," declared Jonathan Grant in History: Review of New Books. In Renaissance European and contemporary Ottoman society, love poetry written by men often has a homoerotic focus: the object of desire is not necessarily a woman but instead is another, often younger, man. "This work puts forward three underlining theses," wrote Fikret Turan in the Journal of the History of Sexuality: "first, that the homoerotic, both chaste and sexual, was the dominant component of male pleasure and viewed as normal; second, that the court and courtly lifestyle were central to this culture of male pleasure, supporting it directly or indirectly as a leading institution; and third, that most of Renaissance Europe showed similar attributes, and thus the Ottoman court and its literary culture were more in parallel with Europe than with Persian literary culture, which, according to the authors, has been wrongly believed to be the main source of inspiration for Ottoman literature."

Ottoman poetry exposes relationships in which older men in a position of power took younger men as homoerotic partners; as the younger men matured, they took over power roles and sought younger male partners for themselves. "In the Ottoman system," Grant concluded, "power and prestige emanated from the court, but increasingly flowed to men who had been recruited as boys from the lowest classes." Such relationships could be found in European cities as easily as in Istanbul. "Venice in particular was a virtual mirror image of" Istanbul, James Biedzynski declared in the Journal of Third-World Studies. Florence and Rome also had examples of young men who became involved with older, more powerful men—although Venice and Florence, Turan explained, had larger populations of female prostitutes and therefore male/male erotic bonding was less public. "In London, in contrast," declared Turan, "the historical record shows the same erotic ideal comprising both male and female beloveds and shifting back and forth between boys and girls."

The authors conclude that these relationships were modeled on the relationship between the individual and the state: both Renaissance Europe and Ottoman Turkey saw the rise of absolutist states, which placed adult individuals in the role of children and the heads of state in the role of parent. This kind of public relationship created a culture in which homoeroticism was valued as an affirmation of the highest values of the society—much like the situation in classical Greece, where relationships between men and boys were regarded as a bond that helped keep society together. "In situations where public life is dominated by men, where warfare is frequent and many men spend most of their time in the company of other men, and where men are educated and women are not, what people identified as masculine virtues—for example, strength, bravery, physical prowess, male beauty, artistic talent, eloquence—are highly valued," the authors wrote in The Age of Beloveds. "Being attracted to young men, loving young men, is an affirmation of those values and virtues, the very values and virtues that a man seeks in himself." The work of Kalpakli and Andrews "demonstrates how the private and fragile emotions of the Ottomans created such strong attachments that shaped their social and political environments," Turan declared. "In conclusion," he added, "The Age of Beloveds is a stimulating work of scholarship on Ottoman history as European cultural history."



Kalpakli, Mehmet, and Walter G. Andrews, The Age of Beloveds: Love and the Beloved in Early-Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 2005.


History: Review of New Books, June 22, 2005, Jonathan Grant, review of The Age of Beloveds, p. 163.

Journal of the History of Sexuality, May 1, 2007, Fikret Turan, review of The Age of Beloveds, p. 312.

Journal of Third-World Studies, spring, 2007, James Biedzynski, review of The Age of Beloveds.

Times Literary Supplement, January 27, 2006, "From Drunk to Dervish," p. 10.


Bilkent University Web site,http://www.bilkent.edu.tr/ (June 19, 2008), "Mehmet Kalpakli, Assistant Professor, Chair."