Final Public Oral Exam: Richard Calis

Final Public Oral Examination
Event date: 
September 18, 2020 - 1:00pm
Seminar Series: 
Final Public Oral Exam


Martin Crusius (1526-1607) and the Discovery of Ottoman Greece


Anthony Grafton, adviser
Molly Greene
Yair Mintzker
Ann Blair, Harvard University
Francesca Trivellato, Institute for Advanced Study


This dissertation examines how early modern scholars studied cultures and religions that were not their own. The setting is sixteenth-century Tübingen, where a pious Lutheran named Martin Crusius compiled a rich record of Greek life under Ottoman rule. Tracing how he became the period’s foremost expert on the Ottoman Greeks reveals that three fields of inquiry now often studied separately —the Lutheran Reformation, the history of early modern Mediterranean, and the history of cultural encounter— were once a single arena of experience. This dissertation posits that by observing the early modern world through the eyes of Crusius and his contemporaries we begin to see how these historical phenomena were connected, how they developed as they did, and why it matters for historians today to study them together.

Through an analysis of an extraordinarily well-preserved set of sources, Martin Crusius (1526-1607) and the Discovery of Ottoman Greece, makes three specific contributions. It, first, focuses attention on the Ottoman Greek world as an important template for early modern discourses of cultural difference. It shows how the categories by which Greeks understood themselves fundamentally framed the ones Crusius used and thus affords insight into a central paradox of much ethnographic writing: Crusius may have been biased, but he was not uninformed. Second, the project shows that ethnography in this period was not yet a crystalized discipline, but rather a form of knowledge-making in which tropes and techniques from several disciplines came together fruitfully. Third, by examining how Crusius and other Lutherans sought to spread their religious ideas amongst Greek Orthodox Christians, the project demonstrates that late sixteenth-century Lutheranism looked much more like global Catholicism than hitherto has been acknowledged. The Germanic lands of the Holy Roman Empire were thus not the inward-looking backwaters that previous generations of scholars saw in them.

This study paints a portrait of a person, a place, and a period and one that balances abstraction with detail. It offers a story that demands of us to think both globally and locally and, indeed, encourages us to interrogate the very parameters of these divergent scales of analysis.

A copy of the dissertation will be available for review two weeks before the exam. Contact Lee Horinko for a copy of the dissertation and the Zoom meeting link and password.