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Session R6356 (The Multilingual Shift in Middle Eastern Studies), 2021
This presentation will address the articulation of Ottoman Studies as a trans-imperial field of knowledge in the seventeenth century. Specifically, it will look at the circuits of knowledge production, genres, and practitioners that generated a rich corpus of Ottoman metalinguistic texts (dictionaries, grammars, glossaries) in Latin scripts, and highlight the unique contributions of Istanbul-based dragomans (diplomatic interpreter-translators) to this corpus. In so doing, the presentation will offer “language ideologies,” a concept first developed by linguistic anthropologists, as a generative framework for exploring the multidirectional interactions between profoundly multilingual Ottoman courtly elites and their European counterparts that constituted not only Ottoman Studies as a field, but “Ottoman” as a distinct and bounded language.
The presentation will also reflect on the challenges of conducting multilingual and multi-sited archival research, and the possibilities for future exploration that massive digitization of early modern text artifacts (both print and manuscript) opens up. It will conclude by illustrating the potential of combining methods from translation studies, codicology, and digital humanities to facilitate new collaborative research workflows.