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Abstract

Research on the Ottomans during the Renaissance and early modern periods has primarily fallen into a dichotomy of fear and fascination—that is, either in scholarship that centers on the prejudice with which the Spanish viewed the East Mediterranean Orient, or, less often, criticism that uncovers surprising moments of tolerance and appreciation. While such an approach has been valuable, it proves limiting in considering how places such as Constantinople also provided a screen on which to discuss issues that preoccupied Spanish society such as race, gender and collective identity. I suggest an alternative framework that better encompasses the flexibility and diversity with which Spanish authors imagined the opposite end of the Mediterranean: Foucault’s heterotopia. Heterotopias are places where multiple utopian visions for a space overlap, often juxtaposing different times and places into a single, imagined site, chivalric novels, novelas, and treatises. I frame my project as a heterotopia in two ways: Constantinople as heterotopia, a city that evokes other historical cities; and Constantinople made of heterotopias, how places like the Harem and Turkish bagnios constitute the imagined city. First, I consider how Constantinople serves as an archetypal fallen city in evoking Troy in works like Pero Tafur’s Andanzas y viajes (1451), and Lope de Vega’s La Santa Liga (1621). At first, Troy plays a role in framing the Orient in a dichotomy of Trojan/Ottoman and Greek/European; later it comes to symbolize larger Spanish claims to the whole of Classical history. My second chapter looks at Constantinople as a heterotopia of foundational cities in Embajada a Tamorlán (1406) and Lasso de la Vega’s La Destruycion de Constantinopla (1587). Here, ancient cities like Enoch and Lavinium are defined by an envy that is projected onto a wealthy Orient. Simultaneously, this maneuver also serves to mask criticisms of Spanish Imperialism. In my final two chapters, I then analyze heterotopias within Constantinople across several different texts, such as Marotrell’s Tirant lo blanc (1511), the anonymous Viaje de Turquía (1557), Cervantes’ El amante liberal and his play La Gran Sultana (1615), and Ana Caro’s El Conde Partinuplés (1637 / 1653). I start with the Harem, which authors use to discuss anxieties over Spain’s gradual transition from a predominately homosocial to a heterosexual society, as women gained more agency in public life. In my final chapter, I delve into the parallel male-homosocial space. Authors use this space to interrogate the increasing pressure to marry that the Spanish state brought to bear: in some cases, authors use Constantinople as a place to champion celibacy, whiles others use it to promote marriage. This project is an initial venture into this topic, seeking to encourage further research on how the East Mediterranean Orient offered a discursive space where Spanish authors tested and contested notions of collective self.

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