Representations of Islam in Early Modern England

November 05, 2015, 8.15 a.m.

An der Universität 5

Room U5/02.22

PD Dr. Katrin Röder (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

In the last decades, scholars have demonstrated that the Islamic world and especially the Ottoman Empire were of more cultural importance to early modern England than had previously been acknowledged. At the end of the 16th and at the beginning of the 17th centuries, the political, economic and military connections between England and the Islamic world were tight, but also varying in scope and intensity, depending on the changing political interests of the ruling monarchs. This lecture discusses early modern English representations of Islam and the “Turk” in sermons, pamphlets, travellers’ and prisoners’ reports, histories and drama, as they offer multiple and complex representations of Islam before the beginning of the period of Orientalism proper, i.e. the 18th and 19th centuries. An investigation of selected texts shows that early modern views of the Islamic world were more ambiguous and fluid than in the later centuries. They were tendentious, hateful, often polemic and sometimes favourable, characterised by a blend of fear, admiration, desire and imperial envy.