By Anders Ingram
PhD Dissertation, University of Durham, 2009
Abstract: In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century a large and complex English literature on the Ottoman Turks developed, characterised by its diversity in form, content, opinion and context. This was a literature in the sense of a large body of texts sharing a topic, written in a similar time and place and in similar context, but also in the sense of a discourse, sharing literary conventions, citing similar sources, recycling information, accepted ‘facts’, anecdotes and images and drawing upon the same authorities.
I examine this literature from its sixteenth-century roots, tracing its growth at the turn of the seventeenth century and its development into a complex literature, influenced by English religious and political contexts as well as growing Anglo-Ottoman trade and diplomacy, until the dramatic changes brought by diminishing Ottoman power in Europe at the close of that century. I draw these sources together as a ‘literature’, by examining trends, chronological developments and connections between them, while on the other hand I focus upon the contexts of individual works and a nuanced reading of their representations of the Ottomans. Through this I seek to bring a broader and more balanced perspective on both English literature on the Ottomans as a whole and the diversity and complexity of the works of which it was comprised.