Winter Term in Turkey

Cunda Moonlight Monastery

Continuity and Change in Aegean Turkey and Istanbul

Moonlight Monastery, Cunda Turkey

Winter Term Study Excursion ~ January 2018

Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University

About the Excursion

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard is again offering a Winter Term Study Excursion in Cunda (pronounced JUNE-dah), Turkey for January 2018. The program’s three-week itinerary is centered on the island of Cunda, located on Turkey’s Aegean coast, with additional visits to Istanbul, Izmir, and Bergama (Pergamon). We begin with four days in Istanbul, visiting monuments such as the Sultanahmet and Suleymaniye mosques, the Hagia Sophia Museum, and other monuments from the city’s Byzantine and Ottoman past. Students will explore the deep layers of history found in the old city and along the Bosphorus, taking time to sample Turkey’s exquisite cuisine along the way.  The heart of the trip is an extended stay at the Ayışığı (Moonlight) Monastery, a recently restored Greek monastery on Cunda Island. Located directly on the sea and surrounded by olive groves, the monastery is a serene location for reading, reflection and conversation. Here, we will engage with region’s complex past via an array of literary, historical, and cinematic works. During our stay on the island we will enjoy a hands-on introduction to Aegean cuisine and also explore enduring local traditions such as olive oil production and shipbuilding. From our base in Cunda we will spend a day exploring the archaeological sites of ancient Bergama. Our Aegean exploration concludes with an overnight trip to the port city of Izmir (Smyrna), followed by a return to Istanbul with plenty of time for additional museum visits and shopping in the city’s famed bazaars.

This trip is ideal for Harvard students with history or literature interests as we explore Aegean Turkey and Istanbul.  Preference will be given to undergraduate students who concentrate in Near or Middle Eastern Studies.

Required Readings (provided by the Program):

Kafadar, Cemal. Between Two Worlds: the construction of the Ottoman State. Berkeley: Univ of CA Press, 1995.

Necipoğlu, Gülru, The Age of Sinan (selections). Princeton: Princeton Univ Press, 2005.

Zurcher, Erik. Turkey: a modern history, 3rd ed. New York: I.D. Tauris, 2004.

Tanpinar, Ahmet Hamdi. The Time Regulation Institute. New York: Penguin Books, 2013.

Pamuk, Orhan. Istanbul: memories and the city. New York. Knopf, 2005.

Recommended Readings

Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace: creating the modern Middle East. New York: Holt, 1989.

King, Charles. Midnight at Pera Palace: the birth of modern Istanbul. New York: W.W. Norton Company, 2014.

Mazower, Mark. Salonika, City of Ghosts. London: HarperCollins, 2004

Pamuk, Orhan. My Name is Red. New York: Knopf, 2001.

Elif Shafak. The Bastard of Istanbul. New York: Viking, 2007.

Barry Unsworth. Pascali’s Island. London: M. Joseph, 1980.

Logistical Information

The first few days will take place in Istanbul, then at the Moonlight Monastery on the island of Cunda for 12 nights with a day trip to Bergama. After an overnight visit to Izmir, we return to Istanbul for 1 night as the program’s end.  This course is not for credit, and will have required readings. Nine students will be admitted to the program, which will be led by an advanced doctoral student in Turkish studies.  

There will be a $500 program fee.  Students will be provided accommodations, all travel costs, two meals per day, and reading materials.  Students are expected to cover additional meals and other personal incidental costs.  

To apply, please apply using CARAT (Centralized Application for Research and Travel) by 11:59 p.m. Friday, October 27, 2017.

Application available at:  Center for Middle Eastern Studies January 2017 Winter Term Study Excursion to Cunda Turkey.

The application will ask for your Harvard transcript, resume, one letter of recommendation from a Harvard professor, and a statement of purpose. Your statement of purpose should address your interest and academic background in Middle Eastern Studies and should be between 300-500 words.

Questions about the program should be directed to Carol Ann Litster, Administrative and Academic Assistant, at

Learn More

If you are interested in participating in this Winter Term Study Excursion, please attend an info session on September 28, 4-5 pm, CGIS South S050, 1730 Cambridge Street. 

Important Dates 

September 28 : Info Session September 28, 4-5 pm, CGIS South S050, 1730 Cambridge Street

October 27 : Deadline for application submission on CARAT (Due 11:59 pm, October 21)


Cunda Moonlight Monastery

Cunda Moonlight Monastery

Cunda Moonlight Monastery

Cunda Moonlight Monastery


See also: Turkey