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  • Monday, March 13, 2023 - 5:15pm to 6:30pm

Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, sixth floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

The next meeting of the Workshop in the History of Material Texts will take place on Monday, March 13th, at 5:15 PM Eastern Time. We will convene in the Class of 1978 Pavilion, on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library. This meeting will be in person only. We will be welcoming Oscar Aguirre-Mandujano (Penn) for a talk entitled “Metaphors, Conjectures, and Opinions: Talking About Books in Early Modern Ottoman Texts.” Oscar writes:
My talk focuses on how Ottomans talked about books in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Ottoman Empire was a heavily manuscript-oriented society and the imperial administration left behind an immense paper trial. Yet, while a large number of manuscripts circulated in Ottoman lands since the fourteenth century, access to books was not always easy. In this talk, I argue that Ottoman scholars often learned about books not by reading them but by talking about them. Hearsay allowed for the transmission of knowledge around the material text, usually by reporting on the contents of a book that a scholar did not have access to, but that was somehow relevant to what he was writing. Through the analysis of biographical dictionaries and other literary works of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, I show that there were forms of communication other than written texts that predetermined what was put into writing, and that they might not have existed in opposition to each other, as in the dichotomy between oral and written, but indeed depended on each other. In other words, I will argue that texts and information were expected to occur in the performance of both the written text and oral communication, between the formal register and the informal interaction, and that oral communication had an important impact in how people remembered texts.  Oscar Aguirre-Mandujano studies early modern Ottoman intellectual history and its connections to literature, poetry, and bureaucracy. He is currently working on his book-in-progress, Occasions for Poetry: Politics and Literary Language in the Ottoman Empire, which explores the political and social importance of poetry in the early modern Ottoman Empire during the reigns of Mehmed II (1451–1481) and Bayezid II (1481–1512). Since 2012, he has also been part of the teaching staff at the Intensive Ottoman and Turkish Summer School (Harvard/Koç Universities) in Cunda, Turkey, where he tutors in Ottoman paleography and Ottoman archival sources. Aguirre-Mandujano is co-organizer of the Baki Project, which aims to develop new digital tools for the study of Ottoman manuscripts.