Spring 2023

Ottoman Modern

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-389  |  History, as HIST-389


Monica M. Ringer (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST-389 [ME/TC/TE] and ASLC 389)

The Ottoman Empire underwent a process of intense reform in the nineteenth century. Reformers were determined to strengthen their country’s sovereignty vis-à-vis increasingly aggressive European imperial powers. They embarked on a series of measures designed to improve their economies, political institutions and militaries. Reformers were also concerned to generate a new public, and to develop modern citizens imbued with new civic, political, literary and artistic sensibilities. Europe served as one important source of inspiration for Ottoman reformers. Reformers were in conversation with European modernity, even as they were in conversation with their own traditions.

This course explores the complex relationship between preservation and change, between admiration and rejection, both 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 modernization as a process of translation from the ‘traditional’ to the ‘modern.’

The course focusses on the construction of an Ottoman modern through an examination of literature, art, ideas and institutions. Class is conducted as a seminar. Written work includes a research seminar paper.

Enrollment is limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Ringer.

How to handle overenrollment: discretion of professor

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close analysis of historical evidence, which may include written documents, images, music, films, or statistics from the historical period under study. Exploration of scholarly, methodological, and theoretical debates about historical topics. Extensive reading, varying forms of written work, and intensive in-class discussions.

ASLC 389 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM CHAP 210
Th 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM CHAP 210


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2023, Fall 2024