It’s always a bit tricky when selecting a country on which to focus during the fall semester, says Dr. Chad Stebbins.

The country must have importance to the United States and the rest of the world – there probably won’t be a Liechtenstein Semester. The country’s history and culture must also be substantial enough to program a semester’s worth of events around it.

Missouri Southern will celebrate this fall’s Turkey Semester with a wide range of events dedicated to its history, traditions, art, music and cuisine.

Fall 2014 will be the Turkey Semester.

Fall 2014 will be the Turkey Semester.

“Turkey has great strategic importance based on its location,” says Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies. “It’s really at the crossroads of the world, where East meets West and where Europe meets Asia. It’s at the crux of everything.

“And it’s a substantial country in its own right in terms of population, its economy and its role in world affairs. It’s always been a close ally of the United States.”

A total of 40 events are planned for the semester, starting with “Traveling in Turkey – An Artist’s Journey: Istanbul and Beyond.” The exhibit, which will run Aug. 18 through Sept. 5 in Spiva Art Gallery, will feature photographs and original works that highlight the country’s culture and Islamic art and architecture.

The semester will feature a variety of guests who will visit the campus to share their expertise.

Gary Wintz, a writer, researcher and photographer, will be “Talking Turkey and Her Neighbors” at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, in Webster Hall’s Corley Auditorium. The following day, he will present “Tourism in Turkey: Intercontinental Beauty” at 10 a.m.

Dr. Paul Kaldjian, an associate professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin who taught at Missouri Southern from 1999 to 2002, will talk about his visits to Turkey in a lecture at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 5, in Corley Auditorium. At 11 a.m., he will discuss the country’s local food distribution system through neighborhood markets.

Istanbul Breeze will visit campus to perform the music of Turkey during a concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, in Corley Auditorium. Their performance will include traditional and classical selections, as well as Turkish folk music with rock rhythms.

The band will discuss the history and traditions of Turkish music at 10 a.m. on Sept. 19, followed by another performance at noon that day.

Deborah and Albert Sherrer, owners of Main Street Mediterranean Cuisine in Bolivar, Mo., will discuss Turkish food and prepare kababs to sample during “The Flavors of Turkey at 11 a.m. and noon Monday, Sept. 29, in Corley Auditorium.

Stebbins said events will also feature members of the Missouri Southern community.

Dr. Conrad Gubera will present “The Mosque Next Door: A Traditional Religious Icon in a Modern, Secular Setting” at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, in Corley Auditorium.

Christine Bentley, chair of the art department, will  discuss her recent trip to Istanbul during “Tango in Turkey” at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, in Corley Auditorium. She will also offer “Destined to be Detained – Devshirme: Slave Children of the Ottoman Sultan” at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 23.

Faculty members from the MSSU English Department will provide readings of folk literature at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, in Phelps Theater; Ottoman literature at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 20; and modern literature at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 14.

The Southern Symphony Orchestra will offer “Turkish Delights” during a concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, in Taylor Performing Arts Center. The orchestra will be joined by guest soloist Erik Peterson, a member of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

The International Film Festival will present a series of eight significant Turkish films, beginning with “Vizontele Tuuba” on Sept. 9. The series will include the politically charged “Yol (The Road)” on Sept. 16 and the popular comedy “Sinav” on Nov. 11.

A highlight of the Turkey Semester will be the novel “Bliss,” by O.Z. Livaneli. The Turkish bestseller – which has been published in several languages – will be the common read for all of the University Experience 100 classes. It will also be the fall selection for the Literary Lions book club.

Livaneli will visit Missouri Southern for presentations and book signings on Jan. 15-16, 2015.

Launched in 1997 with a celebration of China, the themed semesters have become a cornerstone of the university’s international mission.

“The themed semester concept really makes Missouri Southern unique,” he said. “There’s no other university that has anything like it. Quite a few universities have an international week, but we devote an entire semester.”

All events are free and open to the public. For a complete listing of activities, visit www.mssu.edu/turkey/.