Shaj Mathew

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20122013 Forum on Peripheries

Shaj Mathew

Comparative Literature

CAS, 2014

Peripheral Peoples: Istanbul in Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence on the Margins of Modernity

To be on the periphery is to be on the edge, to not quite belong. My research examines how the characters in Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence—a rich portrait of the 1970s Istanbul bourgeoisie—coped with their marginality, attempting to fashion themselves as modern and Western despite the highly conservative attitudes they espoused. Many temporal, museological, and even sexual peripheries operate in the novel as well, as does Edward Said's idea of Orientalism—how Western constructions of "Otherness" affect the daily lives and attitudes of those living in Pamuk's Istanbul. I also consider how, in a deft metafictional move, Pamuk has traversed another periphery in creating an actual Museum of Innocence in Istanbul.