Sources and Methods for 19th Century Ottoman History (HIST 581)

2020 Fall
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Selçuk Akşin Somel,
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Doctoral, Master
Interactive lecture
Interactive,Discussion based learning
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This is one of a series of term-courses reviewing sources relevant for the study of Ottoman and Turkish history in different periods, as well as methods that have been developed and employed by historians on the basis of different types of sources. Specifically for the ''long'' 19th century, HIST 581 is designed to familiarize the student with the basic chronology, themes, problematics and source materials of Late Ottoman history; namely the period starting from the reforms of Selim III and the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt to the beginning of the Second Constitutional Period and the establishment of the Young Turk regime. The course aims to situate the myriad transformations in Late Ottoman social, political and cultural life not only within their European and Balkan context, but also in relation to the modernizing agendas of the non-western/colonial world. Thus, the Ottoman efforts to salvage the state and to redefine an exclusive imperial identity will be discussed through comparative perspectives and methodological insights provided by current studies on 19th century Austria-Hungary, Russia and Iran, as well as colonial North Africa and India.


The aim of this course is to provide information on main problems and issues of nineteenth century Ottoman history, sources of this particular era and methods and approaches for studying it. The course begins with a discussion on the position of Ottoman Empire as a part of nineteenth century world history, and how to apply the concept of "nineteenth century" for Ottoman Empire. This is followed by an inquiry concerning the periodization of Ottoman nineteenth century, conventional approaches and possible alternatives. Students will then encounter a selection of printed primary and secondary sources, where problems concerning sources and historiographical issues will be discussed. Final part of the course will be devoted to issues of archival research and thesis writing.


Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:
1. Analyze the official chronicles of the period, governmental decrees, population censuses, court records and products of Ottoman legal thinking,
2. Analyze travel accounts, memoires and other autobiographical texts, journals and newspapers
3. Demonstrate a working knowledge of the modern methodologies dealing with and making use of these sources.


1. Develop and deepen the current and advanced knowledge in the field with original thought and/or research and come up with innovative definitions based on Master's degree qualifications 5

2. Conceive the interdisciplinary interaction which the field is related with ; come up with original solutions by using knowledge requiring proficiency on analysis, synthesis and assessment of new and complex ideas. 5

3. Evaluate and use new information within the field in a systematic approach. 5

4. Develop an innovative knowledge, method, design and/or practice or adapt an already known knowledge, method, design and/or practice to another field; research, conceive, design, adapt and implement an original subject. 5

5. Critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation of new and complex ideas. 5

6. Gain advanced level skills in the use of research methods in the field of study. 5

7. Contribute the progression in the field by producing an innovative idea, skill, design and/or practice or by adapting an already known idea, skill, design, and/or practice to a different field independently. 4

8. Broaden the borders of the knowledge in the field by producing or interpreting an original work or publishing at least one scientific paper in the field in national and/or international refereed journals. 3

9. Demonstrate leadership in contexts requiring innovative and interdisciplinary problem solving. 2

10. Develop new ideas and methods in the field by using high level mental processes such as creative and critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. 4

11. Investigate and improve social connections and their conducting norms and manage the actions to change them when necessary. 2

12. Defend original views when exchanging ideas in the field with professionals and communicate effectively by showing competence in the field. 5

13. Ability to communicate and discuss orally, in written and visually with peers by using a foreign language at least at a level of European Language Portfolio C1 General Level. 5

14. Contribute to the transition of the community to an information society and its sustainability process by introducing scientific, technological, social or cultural improvements. 3

15. Demonstrate functional interaction by using strategic decision making processes in solving problems encountered in the field. 3

16. Contribute to the solution finding process regarding social, scientific, cultural and ethical problems in the field and support the development of these values. 3

1. Develop the ability to use critical, analytical, and reflective thinking and reasoning 5

2. Reflect on social and ethical responsibilities in his/her professional life. 4

3. Gain experience and confidence in the dissemination of project/research outputs 5

4. Work responsibly and creatively as an individual or as a member or leader of a team and in multidisciplinary environments. 5

5. Communicate effectively by oral, written, graphical and technological means and have competency in English. 5

6. Independently reach and acquire information, and develop appreciation of the need for continuously learning and updating. 5

1. Develop a thorough knowledge of theories, concepts, and research methods in the field and apply them in research design and data analysis. 5

2. Assess the impact of the economic, social, and political environment from a global, national and regional level. 2

3. Know how to access written and visual, primary and secondary sources of information, interpret concepts and data from a variety of sources in developing disciplinary and interdisciplinary analyses. 5

1. Design and model engineering systems and processes and solve engineering problems with an innovative approach.

2. Establish experimental setups, conduct experiments and/or simulations.

3. Analytically acquire and interpret data.

1. Demonstrate command of comparative perspectives, which may include the ability to compare the histories of different societies, or cultures awareness of continuity and change over extended time spans. 5

2. Construct concepts and theories derived from the humanities and social sciences. 5

3. Analyze the evidence from the research to support a historical argument for an answer to a research question. 5

4. Apply a critical perspective to evaluating historical arguments, including the quality of the sources, the validity of the interpretations of those sources, and the soundness of the argument's use of evidence to support a historical interpretation. 5

5. Develop and sustain historical arguments in a variety of literary forms, formulating appropriate questions and utilizing evidence. 5

1. Establish a strong theoretical background in several of a broad range of subjects related to the discipline, such as manufacturing processes, service systems design and operation, production planning and control, modeling and optimization, stochastics, statistics.

2. Develop novel modeling and / or analytical solution strategies for problems in integrated production and service systems involving human capital, materials, information, equipment, and energy, also using an interdisciplinary approach whenever appropriate.

3. Implement solution strategies on a computer platform for decision-support purposes by employing effective computational and experimental tools.

4. Acquire skills to independently explore and tackle problems related to the discipline that were not encountered previously. Develop appropriate modeling, solution, implementation strategies, and assess the quality of the outcome.


  Percentage (%)
Term-Paper %90
Participation %10



HIST 581
Sources and Methods for the 19th Century Ottoman History

Week 1. Introduction. Aims, concepts, issues. Modernisation, Westernisation, Centralisation. Ottoman Empire as part of Modernity

Week 2. The New Order I. (Selim III?ün Hatt-i Hümayunları, Nizam-i Cedid, Mahmud Raif Efendi ve Nizam-i Cedid?e Dair Eseri) [Supplemented by Shaw, Berkes, Lewis, Erdem, Çataltepe]

Week 3. The New Order II. (Hülasat-ül Kelam fi reddi?l-avam. Asiler ve Gaziler.Kabakçı Mustafa Risalesi)

Week 4. Mahmud II and the Janissaries, i. (Vaka-nüvis Es?ad Efendi Tarihi)

Week 5. Mahmud II and the Janissaries, ii. (Gülzar-i Fütühat. Üss-i Zafer)

Week 6. Coming of the Tanzimat (Vaka-nüvis Ahmed Lutfi Efendi Tarihi, 6-7-8)

Week 7. The Tanzimat in Full Blossom: The Great Reform Edict of 1856 (Maruzat, Vaka-nüvis Ahmed Lutfi Efendi Tarihi, 9) [Supplemented by Findley, Akyıldız, Seyitdanlıoğlu]

Week 8. Knowing the Realm, Knowing the World, i (Seyahatname-i Hudud, Avrupa Risalesi-Mustafa Sami Efendi. Avrupa Seyahatnamesi- Hayrullah Efendi)

Week 9. Knowing the Realm, Knowing the World, ii ( Seyahatü?l Kübra- Süleyman Şükrü Hindistan seyahatnamesi- Ahmet Hamdi)

Week 10. Late Ottoman Memoirs: The Private Eye (Aşçıdede Halil İbrahim, Ubeydullah Efendi)

Week 11. Late Ottoman Memoirs: Through the state glasses (Cemal Paşa)

Week 12. Strategies for the Future: Soul-searching Young Turks (Üç Tarz-ı Siyaset, Türkleşmek, İslamlaşmak, Muassırlaşmak)) [Supplemented by Karpat, Hanioğlu, Kansu]

Week 13. Archival Sources of Late Ottoman History

Week 14. Presentations