Civilizing Emotions in the early modern Middle East

Civilizing Emotions is a sub-project of Emerging Subjectivities. It focuses on the forms and functions of one of the hitherto largely neglected phenomena of Middle Eastern societies in the process of modernisation: emotionalism.

About the Project

Alongside with rationalism, enlightenment, empirism, and realism, emotionalism is one of the most prominent, though hitherto little studied forms in which the new secular-educated, world-oriented elites of early modernity in the Middle East, the efendiyya, sought to discover, express, experience, test out, and assert their identity as an ever-growing group of new "players" in politics and society. Emotionalism is a key marker of the emerging "middle class" subjects’ agency and their interaction with the world. Among its most important functions is the self-empowerment through emotional-moral ennoblement, endowing them the nobility of the cultured citizen, a member of the global community of a modern, civilised humanity.

Methodology and objectives

Methodology consists, for the main part, in a close reading of all kinds of texts from the second half of the 19th and first decades of the 20th century. It seeks to achieve a fruitful integration of Literary Studies, Conceptual History, and Nahḍa Studies, combined with the insights generated by the MPI research focus History of Emotion as well as those gained in the Literature, Cognition, and Emotion (LCE) research group.


Together with the overarching Emerging Subjectivities project, Civilizing Emotions is meant to shed fresh light on the transition from premodern to modern attitudes and worldviews in the Middle East with a focus on the psychological processes involved in this process, in particular the efendiyya's emotional-affectual "mind-set".

Selected publications

Start-up reading list
  • Boddice, Rob. 2018. The History of Emotions. Manchester: Manchester UP.
  • Dino, Guzine. 1973. La genèse du roman turc au XIXe siècle. Paris: Association Langues et Civi­lisations. (POF; 802).
  • Evin, Ahmet Ö. 1983. Origins and Development of the Turkish Novel. Minneapolis: Bi­bliotheca Islamica.
  • Finn, Robert P. 1978. The Early Turkish Novel, 1872-1900. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP. – Translated into Turkish by Tomris Uyar as Türk Romanı (İlk Dönem: 1872-1900), İstanbul & Ankara: Bilgi Yayınevi, 1984.
  • Guth, Stephan. 1997. »Fa-ġrawraqat ʿuyūnuhum bi-d-dumūʿ... – Some notes on the flood of tears in early modern Arabic prose«. In: Encounters of Words and Texts, ed. L. Edzard & Chr. Szyska, Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1997: 111-123.
  • — . 1999. »Wa-hākadhā kāna ka-Iblīs – Satan and Social Reform in a Novel by Salīm al-Bustānī (Bint al-ʿaṣr, 1875)«.  In: Myths, Historical Archetypes and Symbolic Figures in Arabic Litera­ture. Towards a New Hermeneutic Approach, ed. A. Neuwirth [et al.], Stuttgart: Steiner, 1999: 301-307.
  • — . 2018. »Arab(ic) Emotions – Back to the Roots«. In: Reading Slowly: A Festschrift in Honour of Jens Braarvig, ed. U. Hüsken & L.E. Edzard, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2018: 199-219.
  • — . 2019. »Adab as the Art to Make the Right Choice between Local Tradition and Euromania: A comparative analysis of Khalīl al-Khūrī’s Way, idhan lastu bi-Ifranjī! (1859) and Aḥmed Mid­ḥat’s Felāṭūn Beğ ile Rāḳım Efendī (1875), or: On the threshold of inventing national Middle Eastern cultures«. In Adab and Modernity: A ‘Civilising Process’? (Sixteenth – Twenty-First Century), ed. C. Mayeur-Jaouen, Leiden: Brill, 2019: 311-345. 
  • — . 2020. »ʽĪsà ʽUbayd’s Programmatic Preface to Miss Ihsan, a Manifesto of Early adab qawmī – Introduction and Translation«. In: Qamariyyāt: oltre ogni frontiera tra letteratura e traduzione, ed. M. Avino, A. Barbaro, & M. Ruocco, Roma: Istituto per l’Oriente C.A. Nallino, 2020: 293-315.
  • — . [2021a]. »The modern subject sensing its agency: Khalīl al-Khūrī’s aesthetics of ‘Truth mingled with Passion’.« Scheduled for a special issue on the Middle Eastern Sattelzeit, ed. F. Zemmin and A. Eren, Die Welt des Islams / The World of Islam (under review).
  • Hafez, Sabry. 1993. The Genesis of Arabic Narrative Discourse: A study in the sociology of modern Arabic literature. London: Saqi Books.
  • Hill, Peter. 2015. »Early Translations of English Fiction into Arabic: The Pilgrim’s Progress and Robinson CrusoeJournal of Semitic Studies, 60/1: 177-212.
  • Moosa, Matti. 1997. The Origins of Modern Arabic Fiction. 2nd edn. Boulder, Col.: Lynne Rienner.
  • Moran, Berna. 31990 [11983]. Türk Romanına Eleştirel Bir Bakış. Vol. I: Ahmet Midhat’tan A. H. Tanpınar’a. İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları.
  • Özön, Mustafa Nihat. ²1985 [¹1936]. Türkçede Roman / baskıya hazırlayan: Alpay Kabacalı. İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 1985. (= İletişim Yayınları; 40). – [1st ed.: Mus­tafa Nihat, Türkçede Roman hakkında bir deneme, İstanbul: Remzi Kitabevi, 1936].
  • Pernau, Margrit [et al.] (eds.). 2015. Civilizing Emotions: Concepts in Nineteenth Century Asia and Europe. Oxford: Oxford UP.
  • — . 2019. Emotions and Modernity in Colonial India: From Balance to Fervor. Oxford: Oxford UP.
  • Ryzova, Lucie. 2014. The Age of the Efendiyya: Passages to Modernity in National-Colonial Egypt. Oxford: Oxford UP.
  • Sarıçelik, Rahime. 2013. L’évolution de l’amour dans les romans turcs du XIXᵉ au XXᵉ siècle. MA thesis U Strassbourg, Dept. d’Études méditerranéennes, orientales et slaves.
  • Selim, Samah. 2004. The Novel and the Rural Imaginary in Egypt, 1880-1985. London: Routledge.
  • Sheehi, Stephen. 2004. Foundations of Modern Arab Identity. Gainesville [etc.]: UP of Florida
  • Stetkevych, Jaroslav. 1970. The Modern Arabic Literary Language: Lexical and Stylistic Developments. University of Chicago Press.
  • Strauss, Johann. 1994. »Romanlar, ah! O romanlar! Les débuts de la lecture moderne dans l’Em­pire Ottoman (1850-1900)«. Turcica: Revue d’études turques, 26: 125-163.
  • Wielandt, Rotraud. 1980. Das Bild der Europäer in der modernen arabischen Erzähl‑ und Theaterliteratur. Beirut: Orient-Institut der DMG, in Kommission bei Steiner, Stuttgart.
Published Sep. 17, 2020 7:20 PM - Last modified Nov. 6, 2021 2:54 PM