Weidenfeld Visiting Professorship in Comparative European Literature

The Weidenfeld Chair in Comparative European Literature is a Visiting Professorship at the University of Oxford, and is an established part of the academic year at St Anne's.

The 2017-18 Weidenfeld Visiting Professorship will be held by Elif Shafak, an award-winning novelist and the most widely read woman writer in Turkey. She is also a women's rights activist and an inspirational public intellectual and speaker.

Elif writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 15 books, 10 of which are novels, including the bestselling The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love and her most recent, Three Daughters of Eve. Her books have been published in 48 languages. She is published by Penguin in the UK and represented by Curtis Brown globally. 

Shafak is a TED Global speaker, a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy in Davos and a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations). She has been awarded the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2010 by the French government.

In addition to her work for freedom of speech and literacy, Shafak is known as a women’s rights, minority rights and LGBT rights advocate. As a public speaker Shafak is represented by The London Speaker Bureau and Chartwell Speakers and Penguin Speakers Bureau.

Shafak has been longlisted for the Orange Prize, MAN Asian Prize;  the Baileys Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award, and shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and RSL Ondaatje Prize

She sat on the judging panel for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (2013); Sunday Times Short Story Award (2014, 2015), 10th Women of the Future Awards (2015); FT/Oppenheimer Funds Emerging Voices Awards (2015, 2016); Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (2016); Man Booker International Prize (2017) and The Goldsmiths Prize (2018).

Further details can be found at www.elifshafak.com 

Twitter @Elif_Safak

Instagram shafakelif

The Weidenfeld Visiting Professorship in Comparative European Literature Lecture Series - Trinity Term 2018

Lectures will be given by Elif Shafak on Story-telling in a divided world

Wednesday 2nd May: Strong Words in a Liquid World

Thursday 10th May: Voicelessness and Taboos

Thursday 17th May: Collective Amnesia and Collective Remembrance

Thursday 24th May: Open Discussion

Defending the Art of Fiction in the Age of Post-Truth 

What is the role of literature in our increasingly fractured and fast-changing world? Is it possible to write a-politically or do writers have a responsibility to speak out – and,  if so, how? Can fiction address political issues in a way that ordinary public discourse cannot? Elif Shafak will explore these questions in three lectures and an open discussion. 

After each lecture there will be the opportunity to ask questions, and all are welcome to join in the closing discussion. 

The lectures take place at 5.30pm at St Anne’s College. All welcome, no need to book.

Weidenfeld Visiting Professors of European Comparative Literature:

1994 - 1995 George Steiner

1995 - 1996 Martha C Nussbaum, Professor of Law and Ethics, The University of Chicago

1996 - 1997 Gabriel Josipovici, Professor of English, School of European Studies, University of Sussex

1998 - 1999 Amos Oz, Professor of Hebrew Literature, Ben Gurion University of Negrev, Israel

1999 - 2000 Roberto Calasso, Author and Publisher, Adelphi Edizioni, Milan

2001 - 2002 Umberto Eco

2002 - 2003 Nike Wagner (Michaelmas Term 2002) and Robert Alter (Trinity Term 2003), Class of 1937 Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of California at Berkeley

2003 - 2004 Mario Vargas Llosa

2004 - 2005 Sander Gilman, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago

2005 - 2006 Michele Le Doueff

2006 - 2007 Wolf Lepenies

2007 - 2008 Bernard Schlink

2008 - 2009 Marjorie Perloff

2009 - 2010 Roger Chartier

2010 - 2011 James Wood

2011 - 2012 Ali Smith was awarded the CBE in 2015. Her Humanitas lectures formed the basis of her book Artful (2012) which was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths prize.

2012 - 2013 Don Paterson

2014 - 2015 Javier Cercas. The third and fourth lectures in the series can be viewed online on the Weidenfeld-Hoffman Trust website.

2015 - 2016 Dame Marina Warner

2016-2017 Sean O'Brien


The Chair was the first of Lord Weidenfeld's Visiting Professorships in Oxford, which are intended to bring leading practitioners and scholars to both universities to address major themes in the arts, social sciences and humanities.