Talk: “The Ottoman Captivity Narrative in Central European Literature,” Dr. Charles D. Sabatos (Yeditepe University), A-130, 4:40PM February 28 (EN)

Dear Colleagues and Students,

On Wednesday, February 28th, Associate Professor Charles D. Sabatos from Yeditepe University will give the following talk, as part of the Center for Turkish Literature Speaker Series.

“The Ottoman Captivity Narrative in Central European Literature”

Charles Sabatos is an Associate Professor in Comparative Literature at Yeditepe University in Istanbul. His primary research interests are in transnational contexts of Central and Eastern European literary history, particularly modernist and contemporary fiction, as well as on literary exchanges between this region and Turkey. His monograph “Between Myth and History: The Turkish Image in Central European Literature” (Mit ve Tarih Arasında: Orta Avrupa Edebiyat Tarihinde Türk İmgesi, Bilge Kültür Sanat) was published in Turkish in 2014. In 2018, he is serving as guest editor of the journal World Literature Studies for a special issue on the notion of “frontier Orientalism.”

The talk will be in English and take place in A-130 at 16:40.
Refreshments will be available.


Cultural contacts between Turks and the various people of the broader Central European region have been dense, yet frequently overlooked, since the early modern period. Indeed, some of the earliest Western
representations of the Muslim world were written by Central European individuals who had lived, often as captives, in the Ottoman Empire and later authored texts generally designated as “Ottoman captivity
narratives.” While related in both theme and style to the so-called Barbary captivity genre, these memoirs offer a framework for captivity narratives beyond the customary focus on Western European texts. This lecture will examine a number of captivity narratives, written either in Latin or in vernacular languages, including Georgius of Hungary’s Tractatus (1481), Bartolomej Georgijević’s De Turcarum moribus epitome (1553), Václav Vratislav z Mitrovic’s Příhody (1599, published in 1777) and Štefan Pilárik’s Sors Pilarikiana (1666). In parallel, an Ottoman account of Austrian captivity, by Osman Aga of Temesvar (1724, published in 1954), will be analyzed together with these texts from a comparative perspective. While these works reflected the cultural assumptions of their era, they were also marked by an underlying ambiguity toward Turks, and sometimes a thinly-veiled admiration for Ottoman society. Through the comparative approach of transnational history, the Ottoman captivity narrative can be seen as a genre that reflects common experiences of engagement with the Muslim or Christian “Other” beyond the political divisions of the Central European region.