SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Classical Ottoman Literature (Masters)

Module Code:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Full Year


Successful completion of Ottoman Turkish Language (PG) or equivalent knowledge of Ottoman.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  1. students will gain familiarity and critical understanding of a number of texts and genres of Ottoman literature
  2. students will acquire skills in transcribing and translating Ottoman literary texts
  3. students will develop critical skills in discussing and writing about the literary (language, style) and social dimensions of Ottoman writing
  4. students will acquire an advanced understanding of the Ottoman literary language and of the wider Ottoman literary legacy


This module is taught over 22 weeks with 2 hours classroom contact per week, consisting of a 1-hour lecture and a 1-hour seminar.

Scope and syllabus

This is a literature module based on the close reading of texts and their examinations within their borader lietary contetxt.  As such it is a language use module whose objective is to make an intensive study of a broad selection of Ottoman literary texts covering different genres and the whole span of Ottoman literature until the Tanzimat reforms of the nineteenth century.

The syllabus will normally include the reading and discussion of literary works in prose and verse.  Works will be selecetd from the early Ottoman period (e.g. frontier epic narratives, eg. Battalname, Saltukname, Sultan Veled and the İskendername), and mainly from divan poetry, inşa prose of the classical and late Ottoman period (15th-19th centuries).  The literary merit of the works will be examined in light of the historical context and linguistic registered employed.

Method of assessment

One essay of 3,000 words to be submitted on the last Friday of term 2 (50%); one essay of 3,000 words to be submitted on Friday, week 1, term 3 (50%).

Suggested reading

  • Andrews, Walter G. and Irene Markoff, 1987.  "Poetry, the Arts and Group Ethos in the Ideology of the Ottoman Empire."  Edebiyat, I/1: 28-70.
  • Andrews, Walter G. and Mehmet Kalpaklı,  2005.  The Age of Beloveds: Love and the Beloved in Early-Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society.  Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Andrews, Walter G., 1976. An Introduction to Ottoman Poetry. Bibliotheca Islamica: Studies in Middle Eastern Literatures 7. Minneapolis.
  • Andrews, Walter G., 1985.  Poetry's Voice, Society's Song.  Ottoman Lyric Poetry.  Seattle.
  • Aynur, Hatice, 2008.  “Cumhuriyet dönemi divan şiiri antolojileri” Eski Türk edebiyatına modern yaklaşımlar II. Istanbul: Turkuaz Yayınları, pp. 58-109.
  • Bombaci, A., 1968.  Histoire de la littérature turque.  Transl. by I. Mélikoff.  Paris.
  • Dankoff, Robert, 1991.  The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesman Melek Ahmed Pasha (1588-1662).   As Portrayed in Evliya Çelebi's Book of Travels (Seyahatname).  Translation and Commentary by Robert Dankoff.  With a Historical Introduction by Rhoads Murphey.  Albany, NY:  State University of New York Press.
  • Faroqhi, Suraiya, 2001.  Subjects of the Sultan : Culture and daily life in the Ottoman Empire.  London: IB Tauris.
  • Feldman, Walter, 1996. " The Celestial Sphere, The Wheel of Fortune and Fate in the Gazels of Naʿilî and Bâkî." International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 28: 193-215.
  • Fleischer, Cornell, 1986.  Bureaucrat and Intellectual in the Ottoman Empire: The Historian Mustafa Ali (1541-1600).  Princeton.
  • Gibb, E. J. W., 1900-1909. A History of Ottoman Poetry. 6 vols. Vols 2-6 ed. Edward G. Browne. London: Luzac.
  • Gökay, Orhan Şaik, 1993.  "Ideology and Literature During the Expansion of the Ottoman Empire."  In: İnalcık 1993: 381- 392.
  • Holbrook, V. R., 1994.  The Unreadable Shores of Love:  Turkish Modernity and Mystic Romance.  Austin.
  • Imber , Colin, 2003.  The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650: The Structure of Power.  European History in Perspective Series.  London: Palgrave.
  • İnalcık, Halil and Cemal Kafadar, eds., 1993,  Süleymân the Second and his Time, Istanbul: İsis, pp. 381- 392.
  • İz, Fahir, 1966. Eski Türk Edebiyatında Nazım.  2 vols. Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Yayınları.
  • İz, Fahir, 1970.  "Turkish Literature."  In: Holt Peter, et al., eds, The Cambridge History of Islam, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Vol. 2: 682-694.  
  • Kocatürk, Vasfi Mahir, 1964.  Türk Edebiyatı Tarihi. Ankara: Edebiyat Yayınları.
  • Levend, Agâh Sırrı, 1980. Divan Edebiyatı. Istanbul: Enderûn Kitabevi.
  • Mitler, Louis, 1988. Ottoman Turkish Writers. A Bibliographical Dictionary of Significant Figures in pre-Republican Turkish Literature. American University Studies: Series XIX, General Literature, Vol. 15. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Necipoğlu Gürlu, 1989.  "Süleyman the Magnificent and the Representation of Power in a Context of Ottoman-Habsburg-Papal Rivalry."  Art Bulletin 71: 401-427.
  • Necipoğlu, Gürlu, 1991.  Architecture, Ceremonial and Power.  The Topkapı Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.  Cambridge, MA.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules