Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Ottoman EMpire and Early Modern travel Writing
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Short essay  1 x 1,000 word essay  20%
Semester Assessment Project  1 x 4,000 word project  80%
Supplementary Assessment Short essay  1 x 1,000 word essay  20%
Supplementary Assessment Project  1 x 4,000 word project  80%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate an understanding of how travel narratives, drama and literature have been used by historians and the challenges of working with these sources.

Demonstrate an understanding of historical debates regarding Orientalism and Anglo-Ottoman interactions.

Analyze and reflect critically on the relationship between the intentions of those who participated in creating a range of relevant sources and their historical value.

Construct cogent historical arguments relating to the Ottoman Empire and early modern travel writing

Brief description

This module will focus on English perceptions of the Ottomans, and Anglo-Ottoman relations, which had been established in 1581. Many of the English visitors to Istanbul thereafter penned their experiences in detail and have left valuable information for historians. During the course of this module we will examine the manner in which these authors viewed Islam, Ottoman society, culture and politics, as well as investigate the role of Ottomans in the construction of the symbols of their power through architecture. In addition, through English drama and literature of the early modern period, we will look at the ways in which Ottomans were represented by English playwrights and the changing notions of the Turks which were reflected in their works. A detailed investigation of some of the travel narratives will aid in assessing the extent to which English authors adhered to stereotypes of the ‘Orient’, in light of their own unique experiences.
The objective of the module is to encourage students to familiarize themselves with the genre of literature to which these sources belong, and to investigate English perceptions in the Orientalist context. Students will be given the opportunity to explore these sources and contribute to the Orientalist discussion. Alongside this, they will also gain insight into the impact that these specific interactions and valuable cultural exchanges had on wider historical processes.


This module will provide an additional choice as part of the range of skills, sources and methods modules available to second year students. It will give students an opportunity to consider how travel writing may be used as a source by historians, and will introduce them to the debates regarding Orientalism and the concept of ‘the other’.


Weekly 2-hour seminars

1. Introduction to the Ottoman Empire and Anglo-Ottoman interaction
2. The genre of travel literature, histories and travel narratives
3. Biographies and brief background of the writers: Dallam, Bon, Knolles, Sandys, Rycaut, Hill, Montagu, and their works
4. English depictions of `Mahomet' and Islam
5. English perceptions of the spiritual status of Ottoman men and women in the earthly world and the afterlife
6. English perception of Ottoman marriage and divorce
7. English perceptions of Ottoman politics and government
8. Depiction of the Ottomans in early modern English literature in general, and Restoration drama in particular
9. English perceptions of architectural contributions of Ottoman men and women
10. Conclusions

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number NA
Communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed through seminars and feedback on written work.
Improving own Learning and Performance Written work will be returned in tutorials where advice will be given regarding the improvement of research and techniques and essay writing skills
Information Technology Through the retrieval of primary and secondary works from online resources and AberLearn Blackboard and through the writing, formatting and printing of essays.
Personal Development and Career planning This module will develop oral and written skills. It will also prepare students for careers which involve the research, critical analysis and presentation of material relevant to a particular problem or set of problems
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will be required to carry out research for seminars and written work.
Subject Specific Skills This module will examine how historians have used particular types of early modern literature and look at debates regarding the Ottomans, and perceptions of the Oriental in general.
Team work Through seminar activities, including seminar leading with another student.


This module is at CQFW Level 5