Spring 2021

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/TE] and ASLC 389) 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. Reformers were also concerned to generate a new public, and 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 the complex relationship of the Ottoman Empire with Europe, and with the Ottomans’ own traditions, as a process of translation from the "traditional" to the "modern." The course focuses on the construction of an Ottoman Modern through an examination of literature, art, ideas and institutions. Conducted as a reading seminar. Two 80-minute class sessions per week.  

Class time is devoted to discussion. Class discussion will be held in person (if possible) AND online for those who are unable to be on campus. There is substantial preparation for discussion to be done before class, in the form of readings (available online and on the course Moodle site) and occasional power point lectures to watch. Assignments consist of frequent response papers, as well as more formal papers. Students may choose to fulfill the history department seminar paper requirement with this course. 

Enrollment is limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Ringer.

If Overenrolled: discretion of professor


Attention to Research, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021