Fall 2016

An Era of Translation: The Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Empire

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-489  |  History, as HIST-489


Monica M. Ringer (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 489 [ME] and ASLC 489.) The Ottoman Empire underwent a process of intense reform in the nineteenth century. Reformers were determined to strengthen their countries’ sovereignty vis-à-vis increasingly aggressive European imperial powers and embarked on a series of measures designed to improve their economies, political institutions and militaries. European institutions served as one important source of inspiration for Ottoman reformers. This course explores the complex relationship between preservation and change and between admiration and rejection of Ottoman and European ideas, institutions, and cultures that characterized the nineteenth-century reform process. We will move beyond the oversimplification and distortion inherent in the paradigm of “adoption vs. rejection” and instead seek to conceptualize the complex relationship with Europe, and with the Ottomans’ own traditions, as a process of translation. The concept of "translation" allows us to understand the process as multidirectional, entangled and interactive. The course draws on a close reading of a variety of primary and secondary sources. Students will be encouraged to apply theories of "translation" to their own research projects. Two meetings per week.

Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students; preference given to upper-level HIST and ASLC majors with prior coursework on the Ottoman Empire and/or Iran. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Ringer.  

If Overenrolled: Preference to HIST and ASLC majors, particularly those with prior coursework in the Middle East.


Attention to Research, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016