Poetics of Empire: Literature and Political Culture at the Early Modern Ottoman Court
Aguirre Mandujano, Oscar
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"Poetics of Empire: Literature and Political Culture at the Early Modern Ottoman Court" argues that in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Ottoman scholars and statesmen produced a new literary language in order to express political thought. Poetic and literary composition was an extension of contemporary politics, a medium through which Ottoman learned men expressed, debated, and ultimately transformed political communication in the early modern Islamic world. Building on the work of cultural and intellectual historians over the past twenty years, I posit that literary production at the imperial court crafted distinctive modes of expression in order to articulate the Ottoman sultanate’s place in the world, particularly vis-à-vis its imperial rivals in Europe and the Islamic world. To this end, "Poetics of Empire" focuses on the composition, editing, and circulation of Turkish and Persian literary works, as well as diplomatic correspondence produced during the reigns of Mehmet II (r. 1451-1481) and Bayezid II (r. 1481-1512), whose patronage played a key role in the formation of a new intellectual elite. "Poetics of Empire" engages with emerging scholarship on intellectual and cultural history, especially that which foregrounds the relation between material culture, literary composition, and the transformation of political thought in early modern Europe and Asia. “Poetics of Empire” addresses one of the fundamental problems in the current state of Ottoman intellectual and literary history, namely, the lack of any systematic study of the social context in which political and literary ideas circulated. This dissertation shows that poetic composition played a much more important role in the daily life of Ottoman elites during the early modern period than is generally recognized by the historiography.