In July 2011, Ayşe Çelikkol (ELIT and AMER) published a book through Oxford University Press on nineteenth-century British literary and economic history, titled Romances of Free Trade: British Literature, Laissez-Faire, and the Global Nineteenth Century. In this book, Çelikkol shows that many of the concerns that we commonly associate with present-day globalization were already afloat in nineteenth-century Britain, during the advent of the free-market economy. Not unlike us, Britons in the nineteenth century pondered the fate of patriotism and the nation-state, and they experienced a heightened awareness of the permeability of borders.
Combining literary analysis with the history of economic thought, Romances of Free Trade offers an interdisciplinary approach to the nineteenth century. It demonstrates that novels, poems, and plays worked in tandem with political economy to explore how the increased fluidity of capital would reshape society. Just as political economists argued that the state should not intervene in foreign commerce, the literary genre of the romance allowed Britons to imagine a world in which commodies flow uncontrollably. Global commerical traffic promised borderless harmony for some authors, but for others it signalled the advent of a decentered world in which chaos reigns supreme. The literary genre of the romance, argues Çelikkol, was especially useful for imagining borderlessness and decentralization. Romance tales often narrate nautical adventures; some are abound with pirates and smugglers, and others are set in lush islands in the middle of nowhere.
At Bilkent, Çelikkol teaches a number of courses that reflect her interest in the history of globalization. In the Department of American Culture and Literature, she has taught courses on cultures of global capitalism and transatlantic literature. In 2011, in the Department of English Language and Literature, she offered a course that explored cosmopolitan identities and the notion of the world-citizen.