95804 - The Ottoman Empire in the Eurasian Context (1) (Lm)

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Cigdem Oguz

  • Credits 6

  • SSD L-OR/10

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language English

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in History and Oriental Studies (cod. 8845)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will acquire a detailed historical knowledge of the main cultural, social and political transformations that took place in the Islamic world and the Middle East from the 13th century to the contemporary era. Students will have analytical skills useful to critically engage primary and secondary sources useful to explore the significance of the Ottoman Empire for world history.

Course contents

The program deals with the history of the Ottoman Empire with an emphasis on its geography, frontiers, and relations based on certain units/themes of study. The program follows a semi-cronological approach and a thematic division of topics. These topics are not only chosen to elaborate on watershed moments in the history of the Empire, but also to reflect on the empire’s role in global events.

It is highly recommended to the students not to miss the first week of the program during which a general introduction will be presented by the instructor.




Readings: Colin Imber, The Ottoman Empire 1300-1650, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002, pp. 1-66 (*to be read by all the students for the week).

  1. Introduction: The place of the Ottoman Empire in World History, Connections, Entanglements, and Relations & Understanding the Main Points in Ottoman History


  • Who were the “Ottomans”? The roots of the empire: Mongols, Turks, Byzantines
  • The consolidation of power in the Ottoman Empire: An Ottoman success?
  • A bird’s eye view of Ottoman elite, society, and culture
  • The terminology of Ottoman history
  • Highlights of Ottoman History
  1. Geography of the Ottoman Empire
  • Frontiers of the Empire, the Balkans and Anatolia
  • The Ottoman Empire and European Powers
  • The Ottoman Empire and “the Middle East”

    (At the end of this week, the students must choose their topics for class presentations)

    WEEK 2

  1. The Ottomans in Europe, the Europeans in the Ottoman Empire
    • War and diplomatic encounters
    • Social and cultural encounters


    *Suraiya Faroqhi, The Ottoman Empire and the World Around it, London, New York: I.B. Tauris, 2004, pp. 179-211. (Chapter 8 “Sources of information on the outside world”).

    Palmira Brummett, “Imagining the Early Modern Ottoman Space, From World History to Piri Reis,” in The Early Modern Ottomans: Remapping the Empire, Virginia H. Aksan & Daniel Goffman (eds.), New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 15-59.

  2. The Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean
    • Pirates, wars, and castles
    • Fight for the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean


    *Molly Greene, “The Ottomans in the Mediterranean,” in The Early Modern Ottomans: Remapping the Empire, Virginia H. Aksan & Daniel Goffman (eds.), New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 104-117.

    Pal Fodor, “Maltese pirates, Ottoman Captives and French Traders in the Early Seventeenth-century Mediterranean,” in Ransom Slavery along the Ottoman Borders, Geza David and Pal Fodor (eds.), Leiden: Brill, 2007, pp. 221-239.

    Giancarlo Casale, The Ottoman Age of Exploration, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 1-12.

    WEEK 3

  1. The Middle East, Islam, Law, and the millets
    • The sufis and the state
    • The Ottoman Sharia and ulema
    • An evaluation of change and continuity in Ottoman law and religious groups


    *Karen Barkey, Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 109-153. (Chapter 4, Maintaining Empire: An Expression of Tolerance)

    Derin Terzioglu, “Sufis in the Age of State Building and Confessionalization,” in The Ottoman World, Christine Woodhead, (ed.) New York: Routledge, 2012, pp. 86-101.

  2. The Ottoman Islamic World
    • Encounters with the Safavids and the Mamluks
    • The Sultan as Caliph
    • Islam and politics. The late Ottoman Panislamism of Abdülhamid II


    *Karen Barkey, Empire of Difference: The Ottomans in Comparative Perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 154-197. (Chapter 5, The Social Organization of Dissent)

    Selim Deringil, The Well Protected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman Empire 1876-1909, London, New York: I.B. Tauris, 1999, pp. 44-67. (Chapter 2, The Ottomanization of the Şeriat)

    WEEK 4

  3. Gender
    • Harem and politics
    • The Islamic Law and gender
    • Patriarchy and “the order” of the state
    • Family, Change, and Ottoman feminism in the 19th century
    • Global sex work and the Empire


    *Leslie P. Peirce, The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire, New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 113-152. (Part 5, The Imperial Harem Institution)

    Efi Kanner, "Transcultural Encounters: Discourses on Women’s Rights and Feminist Interventions in the Ottoman Empire, Greece, and Turkey from the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Interwar Period," Journal of Women's History, vol. 28 no. 3, 2016, p. 66-92.

    Çiğdem Oğuz, Moral Crisis in the Ottoman Empire: Society, Politics, and Gender during WWI, London, New York: I.B. Tauris, 2021, pp. 139-148. (Part, The Ottoman Rights of Family Decree of 1917)

  4. Cities, provinces, and labor
    • The Ottoman trade routes, and commerce in the Early Modern Era
    • Artisans, guilds
    • Slavery in the Empire
    • Ottoman cities and urban life, non-Muslim merchants of the Empire
    • Ottoman ports in the 19th century and the labor movement

    *Rhoads Murphey, “The Ottoman Economy in the Early Imperial Age,” in The Ottoman World, (Christine Woodhead, ed.) New York: Routledge, 2012, pp. 25-40.

    Feroz Ahmad, “Ottoman Perceptions of the Capitulations 1800-1914,” Journal of Islamic Studies 11, no. 1 (2000): 1-20.

    Malte Fuhrmann, “I would rather be in the Orient, European Lower Class Immigrants into the Ottoman Lands,” in The City in the Ottoman Empire : Migration and the Making of Urban Modernity, (Ulrike Freitag, et al.), London: Routledge, 2011, pp. 228-243.

    WEEK 5

  5. The “Eastern Question” and the Ottoman Age of Reforms. Imperialism, Colonialism and the Ottoman State
    • The Decline Paradigm
    • Nationalism in the Empire
    • The Tanzimat and the Changes in the 19th century
    • The Ottoman reformists
    • Capitalism in the Ottoman Empire. The integration of the Empire into the world economy

    *Erik J. Zürcher, Turkey: A Modern History, 4th edition, London, New York: I.B. Tauris, 2017, pp. 30-65. (The Later years of Sultan Mahmud II & The Era of the Tanzimat)

    Ozan Ozavci, Dangerous Gifts: Imperialism, Security, and Civil Wars in the Levant (1798-1864), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021, pp. 1-20. (open access at https://global.oup.com/ )

    Cem Emrence, Remapping the Ottoman Middle East, Modernity, Imperial Bureaucracy and the Islamic State, London, New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011, pp.15-34. (Historiography)

  6. The Empire at War
  • The Balkan Wars and the Italian-Ottoman War in Libia
  • The Middle East at WWI
  • Ottoman call for jihad and the response of the Muslim world
  • The Dissolution of the Empire

*Eugene Rogan, The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, New York: Basic Books, 2015, pp. 1-28; 385-406. (Parts, A Revolution and Three Wars & Conclusion The Fall of the Ottomans)

Yiğit Akın, When the War Came Home: The Ottomans’ Great War and the Devastation of an Empire, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2018, pp. 1-14; 163-190. (Parts, Introduction & On the Road Deportees and Refugees)

Teaching methods

The lectures will be followed by seminar discussions. Students are expected to participate discussions actively by reading the texts before the class.

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

Attending students: The assessment is divided into: 30% class presentation, 10% participation to the class discussions, 60% final oral exam.

Every student is required to read the first reading listed among the readings (the ones with the asterisk*). Other readings are for the presentations. Each student will choose a theme-reading among these and prepare a presentation of 20 minutes to be given at the class. At the end of the first week, the students are required to choose the readings for presentations. Depending on the number of the students, the themes and readings will be decided in consultation with the instructor.

Not attending students are required to pass an oral exam based on all the readings listed in the program (with and without the asterisk*).

The questions for not attending students aim to verify the student's knowledge of the themes treated in the program's readings. Student’s skills in making connections between different texts, assessing the main argument of the readings, and critically engaging with the arguments will be measured during the exam.

The grades (attending and not attending) will be assigned according to these criteria:

Proper language and the ability to critically speak about the readings will lead to a good/excellent final grade

Acceptable language and the ability to resume the readings will lead to a sufficient/fair grade

Insufficient linguistic proficiency and fragmentary knowledge of the readings will lead to a failure in passing the exam.

Teaching tools

Power-points, maps, and online sources will be utilized throughout the course.

Office hours

See the website of Cigdem Oguz