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

2021 Spring
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.


  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