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Ottoman Cultures: Society, Politics and Trade in the Turkish Empire, 1299-1922

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A three-week institute for thirty school teachers on the Ottoman Empire to be held in Istanbul, Turkey.

Project director Linda Cunningham leads an institute on the history of the Ottoman Empire (CE 1299-1922). Initial orientation sessions outline major periods in Ottoman history and introduce participants to Turkish language and culture. On day three, participants begin a six-day trip focusing on early Ottoman history by heading east to the Anatolian plain where the state was founded. During the trip, participants visit Yörük Köyü, a nomadic village associated with Sufism; Safranbolu, a historic Anatolian town; Iznik, formerly the Roman and Byzantine city of Nicaea; and Bursa and Edirne, the first and second Ottoman capitals. In these places, they discuss early commercial and domestic life, religious heterodoxy in the early empire, and the silk trade and Silk Road. Back in Istanbul, participants focus on the middle period of the empire, with discussions highlighting the relationship between the sultan's court and the imperial mosque, the arts and artisanal traditions of the city; and the ways in which charitable institutions (waqf), legal and education institutions (ulema), and Sufi mystics functioned within urban society. A ferry ride up the Bosphorus begins the discussion of the expansion and consolidation of Ottoman power during its "golden age." This is followed by a discussion of Ottoman minority communities and the challenges of ruling a multi-ethnic, multi-religious empire. The last part of the institute focuses on the late Ottoman Empire, including European perceptions of the Ottomans in the nineteenth century, Ottoman aspirations vis-à-vis the West, and the transformation of Istanbul at the end of the empire. On the final day, teachers share reflections, discuss curriculum projects, and make presentations. Exemplary curricula are hosted on a dedicated website. Core texts include: Donald Quataert, The Ottoman Empire; Suraiya Faroqhi, Subjects of the Sultan: Culture and Daily Life in the Ottoman Empire; İiber Ortaylı, Discovering the Ottomans; Talat Halman, A Millennium of Turkish Literature; and Sooyong Kim and Robert Dankoff, eds., An Ottoman Traveler: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Çelebi. Project directors from Primary Source include Deborah Cunningham, Susan Zeiger, Dana Sajdi, and Barbara Petzen—the latter two specialists in Middle Eastern history and culture. Guest lecturers in Istanbul include Cemal Kafadar, Ciğdem Kafesçioğlu, Giancarlo Casale, Sooyong Kim, and Suraiya Faroqhi.

Faculty: Dana Sajdi, Barbara Petzen, Cemal Kafadar, Suraiya Faroqhi, Giancarlo Casale, Sooyong Kim



Dates: July 8—26 (3 weeks)
Director(s): Deborah Cunningham and Susan Zeiger, Primary Source, Watertown, MA
Grantee Institutions: Primary Source
Location: Istanbul, Turkey

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.