Gender was an important factor determining the roles available to early modern actors and the spaces which they could access. This week we think about the respective roles and experiences of male and female intermediaries by focusing on a number of women go-betweens. Based on the writings and life stories of a Venetian convert in Istanbul, a Central Asian princess in India, and an English noblewoman in the Ottoman Empire, we will discuss issues of agency, representation, and experiences of boundary-crossings in the early modern world. PP.
Eric R. Dursteler, ‘Fatima Hatun née Beatrice Michiel: Renegade Women in the Early Modern Mediterranean’, The Medieval History Journal 12.2 (2009): 355-382. Link.
Jyotsna Singh, ‘Boundary Crossings in the Islamic World: Princess Gulbadan as Traveler, Biographer, and Witness to History, 1523-1603’, Early Modern Women 7 (2012): 231-240. Link.
Primary Sources (select one)
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Theresa Heffernan and Daniel O’Quinn (eds.), The Turkish Embassy Letters (London: Broadview press, 2012), pp. 16-30 (Introduction), 100-103 (Letter 27); 112-116 (Letter 30); 130-135 (Letter 34). Link and
Gulbadan Begam, Anette S. Beveridge (ed.), The History of Humāyūn (Humāyūn-Nāma) (London: Royal Asiatic Society, 1902), pp. 82-105. Link.
- In what ways does Fatima Hatun’s story shed light on the nature of Mediterranean boundaries?
- What roles did gender play in shaping Beatrice/Fatima and Gazanfer's ability to mediate?
- Which boundary crossings did Gulbadan Begam practice and how did she act as a go-between?
- How does the 'Humayun Nama' bear testimony to wider border crossings?
- What type of go-betweens appear in Lady Mary Montagu's Letters?
- Compare the perspectives on female spaces derived from Gulbadan Begam, Fatima Hatun, and Lady Mary Montagu's accounts: what are the differences and similarities?
- In what ways do the cases of Gulbadan Begam, Fatima Hatun, and Lady Mary Montagu help recover underrepresented experiences?
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