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Prof. Dr. Ahmet
Occasional Papers: 1
Few people have
enjoyed a career as diverse and full as that of Ahmet Edip Uysal.
A teacher in higher education for more than forty years, a university
administrator for more than a decade, and a very active folklorist for
a third of a century, he has added dimensions to the lives of thousands
in his own country and abroad.
Prof. Dr. Uysal was a
member of the Liberal Arts Faculty of Ankara University from 1948 until 1982.
Colleagues and alumni of that institution remember him for his moving
lectures on American and English poetry and for his empathy with English
Romanticism. A nature lover himself, he had an affinity with the pantheism of
William Wordsworth, widely acknowledged as a key figure in the development of
the Romantic Movement in Western Europe. During
the formative years of the Universities in Turkey’s more remote
provinces---especially during the 1960s and 1970s---Ahmet Uysal devoted a great
amount of time and effort to directing programs of graduate students at Atatürk
University (Erzurum) and Fýrat
When severe winter weather closed airports in eastern and southeastern
Turkey, he shuttled back and forth between Ankara and those areas by bus.
He has since then had the gratification of seeing a number of his
graduate protégés attain significant professional stature.
Ahmet Bey held Distinguished
Visiting Professorships at the University of Cologne during the academic year
1963-1964 and at Texas Tech University between 1966 and 1968.
He has delivered lectures at the Universities of Cambridge, London, and
Edinburgh. Even after he moved into
academic administration, he continued to teach a class or two every semester
throughout most of the 1980s.
In 1982 Ahmet Uysal
was appointed Dean of Education at Middle East Technical University.
Besides administering a broad area of the METU curriculum, he was also
responsible for the operation of the Language Academy at which a great many
students increased their English proficiency to a level that would enable them
to take courses taught in English. When
he reached the age that required his retirement from the deanship,
Dr. Uysal became Director of Publications for the university. In 1992 he
accepted the position of Dean of the Faculty of Letters at Near East University,
a dynamic new institution at Lefkoþa (Nicosia) in the North Cyprus Turkish Republic.
Who but Ahmet Uysal would undertake such a challenging assignment at the
age of seventy?
have been his teaching and administrative functions, Ahmet Uysal may well be
best remembered for his scholarly accomplishments. So extensive is the list of
his professional publications that it cannot be included in a paper of this
length. Long a member of the
Translation Bureau of the Ministry of Education, he has translated a score of
volumes over the years, some from English to Turkish, others from Turkish to
English. Among the former are his
renditions into Turkish of Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys, Alexander
Kinglake’s Eothen, and Kenneth Goldstein’s A Guide for Field
workers in Folklore. The
Turkish works he has Englished range from the belletristic (The Book of Dede
Korkut—A Turkish Epic) to the documentary (A History of the Turkish
In the study of
Turkish culture , especially that transmitted by the oral tradition, Ahmet
Uysal’s contribution has been unique. Few
have collected as much Turkish folklore as he, and certainly no one has tape
recorded as many performances. Between
1961 and 1974 he logged more than 12,000 miles of fieldwork back and forth
across rural Turkey, where traditional narrative remained relatively uncorrupted
by urban mass media. He understands
and appreciates village life style, and he is keenly sensitive to the peasant
temperament. All of his writing
attests to this rustic savoir faire, and nowhere is that more evident than it is
in Tales Alive in Turkey, volumes which he coauthored in 1966 and 1992
There is a remarkably
generous side to the character of this senior scholar.
Regardless of how crowded his own professional schedule may be, he can
always find time to help a colleague, to accept leadership of a group project,
or to make the world in general better acquainted with Turkish culture.
Of his many outreach efforts only a few of the more typical can be cited
here. In 1957 he led an
international tour of the famous Mehter Band, a marching military ensemble of
early Ottoman origin; this group climaxed its three month North African and
European itinerary with thirty-five performances in the Castle Esplanade as part
of the annual Edinburgh Festival. In
1970 he was one of the cofounders of the Archive of Turkish Oral Narrative.
Early in 1988 he planned and coordinated the Turkish unit of
UNESCO’s multinational program to film folk raconteurs narrating in
village settings. The following year
Dr. Uysal took two noted minstrels of Kars (Murat Çobanoðlu
and Þeref Taþlýova)
to London where they sang their lengthy and saz accompanied tales at
sessions of the Third International Storytelling Festival.
Of far broader scope has been Uysal’s organizing work in
behalf of large-scale scholarly meetings. Most
impressive has been his role as Secretary-General of all four of the
international congresses on Turkish folklore sponsored by the Ministry of
Culture between 1975 and 1991.
Ahmet Uysal has come a long way from his birthplace at Doðla, a tiny village in the Karacabey kaza of Bursa province. His quest for knowledge has carried him to far-flung corners of the earth, but his dedication to the Turkish tradition has never faltered. In a spiritual sense, he has never left home.
Go Back to Uysal-Walker Archive of Turkish Oral Narrative
Uysal Walker Türk Öykürleri Sandığı'na Geri Dönüş
Copyright © 2008-2009. Southwest Collection / Special Collections Library
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas