Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Languages and Cultures

First Advisor

Jennifer William

Committee Member 1

John Sundquist

Committee Member 2

Jeffrey Turco


In the following work, I deal with the relationship of faith to superstition, and their reflection in German literature based on religious studies in a literary work.

First, there will be an introduction to this work and the topic and then the subject of superstition will be generally treated. After a description of superstition and beliefs is a discussion of their impact on culture and literature, illustrated by means of examples in a literary work of Emine Sevgi Özdamar. In the next chapter based on historical investigation, religion, its origin, its development and role is generally described, whereas the focus will be mostly on Islam so as to describe the alleged distinction of faith and superstition. I will also consider religion and its relationship to beliefs and superstitions, and I will argue that religious faith is the strongest motivating power in human history and elaborate on how these religious beliefs and attitudes that are deeply settled in the people can prevent but also set tremendous political and moral changes into motion, as one sees for example in the decadeslong conflict over the holy Jerusalem (Küng 162).

Finally, I will then discuss superstition and faith in light of several examples in the literary text Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei- hat zwei Türen- aus einer kam ich rein- aus der anderen ging ich raus, by Emine Sevgi Özdamar, which will serve as a template. The examined superstitious and religious elements are based mostly on Islamic and partly on Christian ideas.

Özdamar wanted to criticize the world of faith and superstition with her work that she consciously wrote in German. In her novel, religious faith and superstition are interpreted to form a unit. Özdamar shows how children in Islamic countries are confronted from an early age with religious themes in the family, in the neighborhood, at funerals, at school and at work. They have to follow the social conventions and traditions, so as to be accepted by society. Özdamar attempts to enlighten and to uncover deceptions through her work. This work has been written deliberately in German, so as to target the intellectual and academic German Muslims who have rejected traditional conventions and may pursue these religious and superstitious notions from an objective point of view. Through this unique work. Özdamar sheds light on superstition and elements of belief, which are of the same substance and are used for one and the same purpose. Özdamar wants to educate the audience and the readership and thus does not want to give power hungry religious- and state leaders the permission to interfere with the development of the individual, and to control their views. To this end, an analysis of these superstitious and religious elements in the text is subject of this research.