Constructing Magnificence and Its Discontents: Analysis of the Series Magnificent Century (Muhtesem Yuzyil)
In this thesis, I primarily investigate the phenomenological implications of the television series Magnificent Century. Following phenomenology’s objective of assessing the essential meaning structures of our embodied experiences, I chart the major contours of the series’ socio-cultural resonances for our contemporaneous context of living. I first suggest that Magnificent Century’s worldwide popularity relies on its central character Hurrem’s alignment with postfeminist sensibilities of our age. Then, I set out to demonstrate that gendered power reversals as well as gender role reversals constitute the series’ main affective magnets. Third, I investigate the co-constructive relationship between masculinity and nationhood in the way it is built upon the combined denigration of femininity, foreignness, and peripheral masculinities. A major point of emphasis is to locate and reflect on the series’ performances of various forms of neoliberal imaginaries and affectivities. In the last two chapters of the thesis, my attention turns to Magnificent Century’s specific cultural work on Turkey’s memoryscape. I analyze the socio-cultural functioning of myths of innocence and originary identity for the Turkish populace. A central concern for me is to investigate the series’ simultaneous celebrations and denunciations of imperial nostalgia. I closely analyze the cultural politics of melancholia and nostalgia in Turkey through its imprints in the series. I conclude the thesis through an investigation of one of the greatest media events of recent years in Turkey, the execution of Prince Mustafa, with an objective to understand the socio-cultural reasons that lie beneath unparalleled degrees of public reaction to young prince’s televised murder.