Leverhulme Research Fellowship awarded to Zeynep Yürekli

Zeynep Yürekli has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, which will allow her to complete a monograph resulting from her latest research, titled Captured Places: Ottoman Historiography and Topographical Illustration.

Generously supported also by the Barakat Trust and the Khalili Research Centre, Zeynep’s research uncovers collaborative cultural efforts at the early modern Ottoman court through the comprehensive study of an experimental, team-led enterprise of manuscript production at the mid sixteenth-century Ottoman court. The intended outcome of this enterprise was an official chronicle of the Ottoman dynasty, written in Turkish prose and illustrated with topographical images in pictorial modes derived from widely varying sources, ranging from bird’s-eye city views in Italian isolarios and Central European publications to flattened projections in Islamic pilgrimage scrolls. This unique endeavour undertaken by a team looking deliberately in various cultural directions to depict places captured by the Ottomans went unnoticed thus far in scholarship because it was abandoned before completion, resulting in the drafts being dispersed. Captured Places will reconvene surviving manuscripts of this failed and forgotten experiment, now kept in various collections in Turkey, Germany and the Russian Federation, and situate them within the changing cultural landscape and courtly structures of the mid-sixteenth century.

Shifting the spotlight from final products to underlying processes evidenced in hitherto unpublished draft manuscripts and archival records, Captured Places will aim to contribute to a deeper understanding of the transfer of pictorial modes and techniques across previously assumed cultural divides. More broadly, it will invite a critical discussion around prevailing notions – in both scholarship and popular culture – attributing exaggerated roles to imperial ideology and artistic genius in early modern material culture, in and beyond the Ottoman world.

Captured Places: Ottoman Historiography and Topographical Illustration is under contract with Edinburgh University Press.