Catalogue


Creating East and West : Renaissance humanists and the Ottoman Turks /
Nancy Bisaha.
imprint
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2004.
description
309 p. : map.
ISBN
0812238060 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2004.
isbn
0812238060 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
5166527
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Nancy Bisaha teaches history at Vassar College.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2005-05-01:
The title suggests the debt to Edward Said's Orientalism (CH, Apr'79), but the book stands on its own as a well-written, solid study of humanists' evolving views of the Ottoman Turks. While early humanists tended to recycle Crusade propaganda, the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 required a reappraisal of their attitudes. Religion ceased to be the main difference between East and West when reports arrived that the Turks had destroyed countless numbers of ancient manuscripts. Horrified humanists concluded that this was now a struggle between civilizations, only one of which respected learning. The consequences of this, says Bisaha (Vassar College), are the sources of Western belief in its cultural superiority over the rest of the world. One might wonder at suggestions that every culture is essentially equal and that there is no evil that should be resisted without first becoming perfect oneself, just as one might read with astonishment that Americans and Europeans only looked on while Bosnia was ethnically cleansed. But there is much worth reading here. Humanists had their very human limitations, and bias was one they had in abundance. Burckhardt, who is mentioned approvingly a few times, would have agreed. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. W. L. Urban Monmouth College (IL)
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A beautifully written and fascinating study that evokes an aspect of Renaissance Italian humanist writings long neglected by historians: the humanist responses to the perceived, and often real, threat of the Ottoman Turks (and Islam generally) to Europe in the wake of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453."- Comitatus
"A beautifully written and fascinating study that evokes an aspect of Renaissance Italian humanist writings long neglected by historians: the humanist responses to the perceived, and often real, threat of the Ottoman Turks (and Islam generally) to Europe in the wake of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453."-- Comitatus
"A fruitful, engaging exploration of a formative moment in Western culture, a moment that simultaneously gave rise to the vilified image of "the Turk" and witnessed the self-fashioning of European modernity."- Bulletin of the Royal Institute For Inter-Faith Studies
"A fruitful, engaging exploration of a formative moment in Western culture, a moment that simultaneously gave rise to the vilified image of "the Turk" and witnessed the self-fashioning of European modernity."-- Bulletin of the Royal Institute For Inter-Faith Studies
"Bisaha provides the most comprehensive and nuanced account now available of the attitudes of Western intellectuals to the Turks, the Byzantines, and crusading in Renaissance Italy, an important time and place for the formation of Western cultural identity."--James Hankins, Harvard University
" Creating East and West is carefully researched and develops a nuanced and subtle argument that portrays the complexity and variability of the West's intellectual response to the Ottoman challenge. It also underscores the importance of this period for the evolution of concepts such as East and West, Europe and Asia, and suggests how these Renaissance views influenced early modern attitudes, and indeed may still inform the modern discourse on Islam and the West."- Renaissance Quarterly
" Creating East and West is carefully researched and develops a nuanced and subtle argument that portrays the complexity and variability of the West's intellectual response to the Ottoman challenge. It also underscores the importance of this period for the evolution of concepts such as East and West, Europe and Asia, and suggests how these Renaissance views influenced early modern attitudes, and indeed may still inform the modern discourse on Islam and the West."-- Renaissance Quarterly
"This engaging and enlightening work is an important contribution to scholarship on the evolution of Western thinking on the Muslim world and on the West's sense of itself."- Journal of Religion
"This engaging and enlightening work is an important contribution to scholarship on the evolution of Western thinking on the Muslim world and on the West's sense of itself."-- Journal of Religion
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, May 2005
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Nancy Bisaha examines the vast body of Renaissance humanist works that focus on the Ottoman Empire, Islam & the Crusades, using the texts to define the significant role played by Renaissance writers in shaping Western views of self & other.
Main Description
As the Ottoman Empire advanced westward from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, humanists responded on a grand scale, leaving behind a large body of fascinating yet understudied works. These compositions included Crusade orations and histories; ethnographic, historical, and religious studies of the Turks; epic poetry; and even tracts on converting the Turks to Christianity. Most scholars have seen this vast literature as atypical of Renaissance humanism. Nancy Bisaha now offers an in-depth look at the body of Renaissance humanist works that focus not on classical or contemporary Italian subjects but on the Ottoman Empire, Islam, and the Crusades. Throughout, Bisaha probes these texts to reveal the significant role Renaissance writers played in shaping Western views of self and other. Medieval concepts of Islam were generally informed and constrained by religious attitudes and rhetoric in which Muslims were depicted as enemies of the faith. While humanist thinkers of the Renaissance did not move entirely beyond this stance, Creating East and West argues that their understanding was considerably more complex, in that it addressed secular and cultural issues, marking a watershed between the medieval and modern. Taking a close look at a number of texts, Bisaha expands current notions of Renaissance humanism and of the history of cross-cultural perceptions. Engaging both traditional methods of intellectual history and more recent methods of cross-cultural studies, she demonstrates that modern attitudes of Western societies toward other cultures emerged not during the later period of expansion and domination but rather as a defensive intellectual reaction to a sophisticated and threatening power to the East.
Table of Contents
Time Line of Key Events in the Ottoman Advancep. ix
Introductionp. 1
Crusade and Charlemagne: Medieval Influencesp. 13
The New Barbarian: Redefining the Turks in Classical Termsp. 43
Straddling East and West: Byzantium and Greek Refugeesp. 94
Religious Influences and Interpretationsp. 135
Epilogue: The Renaissance Legacyp. 174
Notesp. 189
Bibliographyp. 273
Indexp. 301
Acknowledgmentsp. 307
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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