This thesis explores why readers insist on interpreting Zehra Çirak's texts in light of her Turkish German background when she claims that her texts have little to do with her Turkish heritage and are more universally applicable. While readers can interpret her texts without considering the author's biography, thereby obtaining insights into their own personal identity, I suggest that it also makes sense for readers to interpret her texts with the author's biography in mind because of current events and the history of Turkish migrant labor in Germany. To explore different possible interpretations of her texts, I have categorized Çirak's poetry, found in four of her volumes of poetry, Vogel auf dem Rücken eines Elefanten (1991), Fremde Flügel auf eigener Schulter (1994), Leibesübungen (2000), and In Bewegung (2008), into two broad groups. First, I look at the few poems in which Çirak overtly addresses alterity by discussing the alienation of Turks. In these texts, the speakers use Turkish words or images that link the texts to Çirak's biography. Then I turn to look at poems that can only metaphorically be interpreted as addressing Turkish German integration into mainstream German society and discuss how even though the figurative language Çirak employs make her texts applicable to other situations or interpretations, the texts lend themselves to being read in light of multiculturalism. In both of these categories of poetry, Çirak uses metaphor to address alterity without pandering to stereotypes or setting categorical limits on Turks, Germans, or other members of her readership.



College and Department

Humanities; Germanic and Slavic Languages



Date Submitted


Document Type





Zehra Çirak, Multiculturalism, Reader Response Theory