Politics of Anxiety
: The imago turci in early modern English prose, c.1550-1620

  • Stephan Schmuck

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England, portrayals of the Turk reflected aspects of Christian thinking. More specifically, these views varied according to ideological outlook, place and time. To complicate matters further, while there are a variety of images of the Turk responding to a range of Christian concerns, the nexus of images of the Turk - the imago Turci – is essentially contradictory. English portrayals and responses to the Turks are not uniform, but vary, while the Turk operates at once both from within and at a distance from English culture in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century. In other words, the Turk is both real and imagined. This project is a response to these issues. It examines the ways in which Turks - both real and imagined - not only figure in early modem English prose texts as a site of their cultural production, perpetuation, and negotiation, but also the ways in which these images relate to and participate in current political and cultural debates that also informed these prose texts. As a consequence of the diversity of the imago Turci in a wide range of available, printed prose works, I adopt five categorical distinctions representing five groups of overlapping genres, or modes for my analysis: history, religion, travel, mercantile writings and romance. Reading the material in their historical contexts, one of the arguments to arise from this is that the use of the Turk in these English texts reflects the wider cultural and political developments in Western Christendom and England, and between Christendom and the Ottoman Empire. The central argument of this project is that the imago Turci in early modem English prose emerges as a complex discursive site in which a variety of competing interests are negotiated.
Date of Award04 Sept 2007
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorJayne Elisabeth E. Archer (Supervisor), Patricia Diane Watt (Supervisor) & Claire Jowitt (Supervisor)


  • Christian thinking
  • ideological outlook
  • representations

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