Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Awards

Secil Yilmaz

The Graduate Center,
City University of New York

2017 Winner (Humanities)

Secil Yilmaz

Secil Yilmaz

Love in the Time of Syphilis: Medicine and Sex in the Ottoman Empire, 1860-1922
The Graduate Center, City University of New York, History
Supervised by Beth Baron

The dissertation brilliantly examines the impact of the introduction of modern scientific and medical knowledge into the Ottoman medical establishment and society.  This is a ground-breaking dissertation, well-written, masterfully researched, and will have significant implication on how we understand the development of the modern subject in the Middle East.  The dissertation convincingly argues that the complex social and medical history of syphilis in the late Ottoman Empire left profound effects on the shaping of attitudes towards love, sex and gender.  One member of the committee noted that Dr. Yilmaz’s analysis developed a “compelling and much-needed narratives about the everyday private lives of Ottoman subjects.”

Another member of the committee commented on the masterful merging of “archival research with theoretical insights in multiple disciplines and fields, telling her readers a non-Eurocentric story of modern medicine, governmentality and love.”

A third member of the committee highlighted the contribution of this dissertation by noting that Dr. Yilmaz’s work “broadens the scope of late-Ottoman history and contributes to global histories of sexuality and medicine, all related with a deft hand.”

The committee wishes to heartily congratulate Dr. Yilmaz and wishes her the best in her academic career.  We also want to congratulate the dissertation supervisor Professor Beth Baron of City College and Graduate Center CUNY. 

2017 Review Committee
Walid Saleh (chair), University of Toronto
Cemil Aydin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Carol Fadda, Syracuse University
G. Carole Woodall, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

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