The fourth book by PICT core faculty member David Selim Sayers appeared in November 2019 from the German academic publisher Harrassowitz Verlag. Entitled “The Wiles of Women as a Literary Genre”, the book explores the timeless literary theme of the “wiles of women” on hand of a hitherto-unstudied corpus of stories written in Ottoman and Azeri Turkish from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.
The Wiles of Women as a Literary Genre consists of three parts: a narrative analysis offering a definition of wiles-of-women stories as a literary genre in their own right; a cultural analysis exploring the genre’s underlying worldview regarding gender and society; as well as transliterations and English translations of 17 wiles-of-women stories previously unavailable to the public. The book has been lauded by M. Şükrü Hanioğlu (Princeton University) as “fill[ing] a major vacuum not only in Near East scholarship, but also in gender studies and comparative literature.”
As a literary genre, the wiles of women are colorful and heterogeneous, with different stories viewing the wiles of women as evil and dangerous, as frivolous and amusing, or as thoughtful and instructive. The stories do promote a strictly gendered worldview, depicting women as intrinsically and incorrigibly guileful while men are granted moral agency and the capacity to learn from their mistakes. Nonetheless, many stories employ humor and ambiguity—for instance by casting men in guileful roles—to grant a more nuanced view of social and gender relations.