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The Art of Conversation in the Ottoman Literary Salon - Dr Helen Pfeifer

Posted on 29 April 2021

For those that missed the Zoom seminar, the recording can now be viewed online.

On 29th April, Dr Helen Pfeifer presented the paper The Art of Conversation in the Ottoman Literary Salon at the Summer Term CREMS Research Seminar. 

The Zoom recording is available to watch until the 13th May.

Helen Pfeifer is a University Lecturer in Early Ottoman History at Christ's College, University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on empire, the circulation of culture, and the management of human diversity in the early modern period. Her current book project, Empire of Salons: Conquest and Community in 16th-Century Ottoman Lands, studies the social and cultural consequences of the Ottoman incorporation of the Arab world in 1516-7. Based on both Arabic and Ottoman Turkish sources, it shows how Ottoman literary salons contributed to a shared sociability that eased communication across the diverse and sprawling empire.

Ottoman gentlemen took conversation very seriously. They spent days immersed in it, and years preparing for it. This talk will examine the rules and practices of enlightened discourse in sixteenth-century Ottoman literary salons. Understanding the spaces and the audiences for elite speech helps to suggest why, in many cases, the stakes were so high.