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"Before Orientalism: Early Modern Anglo-Ottoman Encounters"

International Conference to Be Held May 8 – 10, 2009, at Freie Universität

№ 105/2009 from May 04, 2009

The international, interdisciplinary conference "Before Orientalism: Early Modern Anglo-Ottoman Encounters" will be held from May 8 to 10, 2009, at the Seminar Center of Freie Universität. The conference is being hosted by a subproject of the Collaborative Research Center "Cultures of Performativity." The conference language is English.

In the humanities the "discovery" of the New World in the Renaissance has repeatedly been a subject of intensive research. In spite of that, one aspect has long been neglected: that at first, for many early modern societies, contact with Eastern cultures played a greater role than with Western ones. The international, interdisciplinary conference on "Before Orientalism: Early Modern Anglo-Ottoman Encounters" aims to take a closer look at the complex relationships in East-West encounters of the period, as portrayed in travelogues, plays, operas,and paintings. The conference was planned under the assumption that in early modern England, there was not yet a clear East-West opposition with a clear tendancy toward Western domination – as postulated by Edward Said for a later epoch in his highly influential book, Orientalism. On the contrary, during the period around 1600, the cultural encounter was characterized by a principle of openness, before the dynamics of power became a factor.

Please register with Sabine Lucia Müller, Email:

Conference Schedule:

Friday, May 8

  • 12.00 to 13.00 : Registration
  • 13.00 to 14.00 : Welcoming Address, Sabine Schülting, Freie Universität Berlin
  • 14.00 to 15.00   "Ottomania: How Early Modern English Culture Was Transformed by Encounters with the Ottoman World"; Gerald MacLean, University of Exeter
  • 15.15 to 16.15 : "Command Performances: Early English Traders in Ottoman ‘Arabia Felix’”; Richmond Barbour, Oregon State University
  • 19.00 : Joseph Haydn: Orlando Paladino. Staatsoper Unter den Linden

Saturday, May 9

  • 9.00 to 10.00 : "Claudio Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (1624 or 1625): A Christian-Muslim Encouter in Music?"; Clemens Risi, Freie Universität Berlin
  • 10.00 to 11.00 : "Painting the ‘Orient’: Before Orientalism in the Visual Arts of the Early Modern Age”; Wibke Joswig, Freie Universität Berlin
  • 11.30 to 12.30 : "English Women in Oriental Dress: Displaying Turkishness in Lady Wortley Montagu’s Turkish Embassy Letters and Daniel Defoe’s Roxana”; Susanne Scholz, Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main
  • 14.00 to 15.00 : "The Play of Cultures: Early Modern Drama and the Mediterranean Contact Zone”; Emily Bartles, Rutgers State University of New Jersey
  • 15.00 to 16.00 : "Ousting the Ottomans: The Double Vision of the East in The Travels of the Three English Brothers (1607)”; Ralf Hertel, Freie Universität Berlin
  • 16.30 to 17.30 : "’Old Mahomet’s Head’: Performing Islam in Early Modern England”; Matthew Dimmock, University of Sussex

Sunday, May 10

  • 9.00 to 10.00 : "Shakespeare Before Orientalism: Hamlet in Sierra Leone, 1607 – A Debate”, Richmond Barbour, Oregon State University; Berhard Klein, University of Kent
  • 10.00 to 11.00 : "Anglo-Ottoman Diplomatic Performances”; Sabine Lucia Müller, Freie Universität Berlin
  • 11.30 to 12.30 : "After Orientalism? Performing Post-September – 11 Culturalist Discourses in Elfriede Jelineck’s Bambiland and Recent Productions of Aischylos‘ Persians“; Claudia Berger, Indiana University
  • 12.30 to 13.00 : Final Discussion


  • May 8 – 10, 2009
  • Seminar Center at Freie Universität Berlin, Room L115/116, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin, (subway stop: Dahlem-Dorf or Thielplatz, U3; Bus 110, M 11, X 83, X 11)

For further information, please contact:

  • Sabine Lucia Müller, Department of Philosophy and Humanities, CRC "Cultures of Performativity," Tel.: 030 / 24 37 63 23, Email: