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Author ORCID Identifier



Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Comparative Literature

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Kathryn Lachman

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature | Islamic World and Near East History | Modern Literature | Near Eastern Languages and Societies | Translation Studies


“The Moral Frame: Adab and Ottoman Literary Modernity” documents the links between conceptual history, modernity, and translation in Ottoman/Turkish letters in the nineteenth century. Informed by the centrality of translation to the making, legitimation, and universalization of modern literary epistemology across languages, this dissertation addresses the potentials of conceptual translation, by way of specific attention to its temporal politics, for theorizing Persianate literary modernities in more historicized terms. Placing the concept of literature at its center, this study on the one hand builds on a growing scholarship that reconceptualizes literature as a modern discipline that emerged in the wake of colonial modernity. On the other hand, in order to trace the grounds of literary knowledge and hermeneutics in late Ottoman theoretical and creative writing, this dissertation considers the relevance of the Persianate adab culture for theorizing Ottoman literary modernity. In their engagement with the civilizational idea of world literature, which posited a progressive temporality, my case studies show, late Ottoman writers invoked adab in a variety of literary forms and functions such as advice literature, romance narratives, religious travelogues, poetics, debate etiquette, and Sufi hermeneutics. Taking it as neither timeless tradition nor an alternative modernity, this dissertation defines adab as a moral praxis that blends aesthetic, epistemological, and ethical considerations, and argues that adab thus inflects the progressive temporality of modern literature with the mark of ethical time. In the two conceptual trajectories of adab and world literature, which diffused into each other in the making of Ottoman literature as a moral praxis, “The Moral Frame” not only reconfigures Ottoman modernity in terms of modern epistemology, but also shows that literary modernity was less about nationalized spaces than the ethics of literary knowledge. In so doing, it revises the Eurocentric account of the late Ottoman literary “renaissance” and advances translational temporality as an effective framework for comparative modernity studies.


Available for download on Friday, September 01, 2023