From historiographies to dramas, captivity narratives to mercantile ledgers, Anglo-Muslim studies has been in pursuit of an overall conceptualization the uniquely insular English population had of the Muslim Turks of the Ottoman Empire. But to approach an understanding of what the English thought of the Turk, one must necessarily consider the broad range of socio-political and economic conditions of the various echelons of English society. This dissertation explores a popular literature that - although a significant number of these texts exist that deals with the crucial relationship between Christians and Muslims - has heretofore never been considered as a whole in the context of how they represent the Muslim Turk. Broadside ballads, consumed widely and across the social and economic spectrum, were more accessible to and often indeed written expressly for the poor population of England who were largely illiterate and had little to no expendable time or income, and the Turk was a favored metaphor in broadside ballad literature throughout the seventeenth century. I argue that the function of the term “Turk” in seventeenth century broadside ballads depended so much on (and whose fluctuation was so closely attuned to) local politics that the term was largely stripped of any meaning, functioning simply as an “enemy” against which the English compared themselves and defined proper “Englishness.” My dissertation moves from the early decades of the century and the drama and discourse around piracy, through the tumultuous English Civil Wars and Interregnum, and through the Exclusion Crisis and the invasion of Vienna by Ottoman forces in order to trace the evolution of the presence of the Turk in popular broadside ballad. My research shows that Muslims performed a crucial function in the construction of the English identity, and no body of literature illustrates how closely the term “Turk” was linked to “not English” as clearly as the popular broadside ballad.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. November 2016. Major: English. Advisor: Nabil Matar. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 286 pages.
"The Abhorred Name of Turk": Muslims and the Politics of Identity in Seventeenth-Century English Broadside Ballads.
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