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French delight in Turkey: The impact of Turkey on the construction of French identity, 1660--178

Posted on:2002-12-23Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New BrunswickCandidate:Landweber, Julia AnneFull Text:PDF
GTID:1466390014951689Subject:European history
This dissertation examines the construction of national identity, as revealed through France's relationship with the Ottoman Empire from 1660 to 1789. I reinterpret early modern France's cultural engagement with the Ottoman Empire and the image of the Turk, by arguing that fascination with Turkey, and with representations of the Turks, played an important role in popularizing the critical examination of national character in France. Reflection on the nature of others was one way the French arrived at a meaningful understanding of their own national character. France's unique bond with Turkey provided repeated opportunities to compare and contrast their self-conception with the perceived national character of the Turks. I argue that there were two paths by which the French relationship with Turkey impacted French identities in this period. The engagement of French subjects with actual Turks encouraged the development of basic conceptions of national identity among the French. In close conjunction with these encounters, but on a more purely cultural level, French images of the Turk, consumed as turqueries, further shaped interpretations of French national character.;The French were introduced to the Turks via three routes. The first was through encounters with Turkish ambassadors to France. Underlying observations of these visitors were contemporary assumptions which defined French character vis-a-vis Turkish character. Such assumptions gradually shifted from a seventeenth-century feeling of French superiority-of-civilization to an increasing concern in the mid-eighteenth century over the degree to which it was still possible to distinguish the French from the Turkish character. Another route was through French experiences in the Ottoman Empire: several diplomatic incidents faced by the French in Turkey stressed the growing importance of national identity among French individuals abroad. A third route was through the projection of Turkish imagery onto French customs and material culture. Though often based in stereotype, turqueries allowed the consumer classes to reflect on who they were, by reference to who they were not. The cosmopolitanism so favored by Enlightenment philosophy opened the doors of imagination to the curious, and accustomed the French to both viewing and vicariously experiencing Turkishness as a powerfully appealing alternative national identity.
Keywords/Search Tags:French, Identity, Turkey, Ottoman empire, Turkish
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