Classical Ottoman Texts

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

A study of Ottoman prose and poetry of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The module covers the development and function of Ottoman prose writing. Poetry, including divan poetry, is studied through selections from major authors.



Successful completion of Ottoman Turkish language or equivalent knowledge of Ottoman.


Objectives and learning outcomes of the module



An critical assessment of the history and development of classical Ottoman literature and a close reading from various genres.

Learning outcomes:

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



The module is taught two hours per week.

Scope and syllabus


The material is studied both in the Ottoman script and in transcription. The module includes background lectures and required reading in both English and modern Turkish on aspects of Ottoman literary history and poetry.


Method of assessment

One written examination in May-June (80% of the final mark); one assessed essay of approx. 2500 words, due first day of Term 3 (10%); one transcription and translation assignment, due last day of Term 2 (10%).

Suggested reading

Basic bibliography:
  • Alpay-Tekin, Gönül, 1993. "Cemsçâh u ‘Alemsçåh: A Mesnevî of the Sixteenth Century." In: ınalc∫k, Halil and Cemal Kafadar, eds., Süleymân the Second and his Time, Istanbul: Isis Press, pp. 369-79.
  • Alpay-Tekin, Gönül [1993]. ‘OthmÃ¥nl∫, Literature. Encyclopedia of Islam.
  • Ambros, Edith, 1982. Candid Penstrokes. The Lyrics of Me’ålÂ¥, an Ottoman Poet of the 16th century. Berlin: Klaus Scharwz. 520pp.
  • Andrews, Walter G., 1976. An Introduction to Ottoman Poetry. Bibliotheca Islamica: Studies in Middle Eastern Literatures 7. Minneapolis. Pp 195.
  • Andrews, Walter G. and Irene Markoff, 1987. "Poetry, the Arts and Group Ethos in the Ideology of the Ottoman Empire." Edebiyat, I1: 28-70.
  • Andrews, Walter G., 1985. Poetry's Voice, Society's Song: Ottoman Lyric Poetry. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Pp. xii + 219.
  • Holbrook, V. R., 1994. The Unreadable Shores of Love: Turkish Modernity and Mystic Romance. Austin.
  • Feldman, Walter, 1996. " The Celestial Sphere, The Wheel of Fortune and Fate in the Gazels of Nâ’ilî 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.
  • ız, Fahir, 1966. Eski Türk Edebiyat∫nda Naz∫m. 2 vols. Istanbul: ıstanbul Ãœniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Yay∫nlar∫.
  • K∫nal∫zâde Hasan CÇelebi. Tezkiretü'sç-SÇu‘arâ. Edited by ıbrahim Kutluk. 2 vols. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu.
  • Levend, Agâh S∫rr∫, 1980. Divan Edebiyat∫, Istanbul: Enderûn Kitabevi.
  • Meredith-Owens, G. M., 1971. Mesçå‘ir ü'sç-SÇu‘arâ or Tezkere of ‘Åsç∫k≥ CÇelebi. London: Luzac.
  • 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.
  • Schmidt, Jan, 1991. Pure Water for Thirsty Muslims. A Study of Mußâ€fÃ¥ ‘ÅlÂ¥ of Gallipoli's Künhü'l-A≈bar. Leiden: Oosters Instituut.
  • Stewart-Robinson, James, 1967. "The Ottoman Biographies of Poets." Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 28(3): 145-156.
  • Tietze, Andreas, 1979-82. Mustafa Ali's Counsel for Sultans of 1581. 2 vols. Vienna: Österreichsche Akademie der Wissenschaften.
  • Timurtasç, Faruk, 1974. Klasik ve Eski Osmanl∫ Türkçesi Metinleri. Istanbul: ıstanbul Ãœniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Yay∫nlar∫.
  • Walsh, John, 1983. "Yunus Emre and Divan Poetry." Journal of Turkish Studies, 7: 453-64.


Dr Yorgos Dedes


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