Deniz Zorlu

Deniz Zorlu


A Magnificent Century

I plan to make a 15 minutes presentation based on my continuing PhD research project on the television show Magnificent Century which narrates the life of Hurrem Sultan (Roxolana) and the Sultan Suleiman (The Magnificent) at the height of the Ottoman power in the sixteenth century. The show has been screened over 40 different countries reaching over 200 million people in the Middle East and in the Balkans.

My short presentation will be based upon demonstrating three interlinked developments/discursive frames that simultaneously inform the production of this widely popular television show and the socio-political transformations of the Turkish society in 2000’s. First of all, the show is closely related with the recent upsurge of international interest on a long list of TV productions that are centered on depicting pre-modern empires and the ensuing imperial power struggles. Secondly, it is part of a contemporary pre-occupation in Turkey about the remembrance of controversial, violent and traumatic episodes of Turkish history and resulting challenge to the hegemonic official history narratives. Lastly, it speaks to the general growth of interest on the history of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey in recent years.  These three different discursive fields at times overlap and occasionally contradict each other in the show and I argue that it is in this dynamic and conflictual inter-discursive space that the show needs to be situated in and be analyzed.  Hence, I am going to use this visual text as a magnifying glass in my presentation to showcase the swift, albeit contradictory and conflictual, social and political transformations of the Turkish society in 2000’s and the dilemmas that this produces by primarily focusing on these three discursive frames that I believe play a major role in shaping today’s Turkish society as they reflect themselves in this TV show.



I am a third year PhD student in Cultural Studies program and I have got my undergraduate and master degrees from Turkey. My broad research interests include media, television and film analysis with a special focus on analyzing their relevance in their context of production. Hence, I am primarily interested in investigating how a particular popular production or a particular genre of productions interacts with their social milieu, simultaneously shaping and being shaped by it.

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