A radical reappraisal of the relationship between ‘east’ and ‘west’ is currently underway. Critical approaches to the early modern period have too often tacitly assumed a binary opposition between a civilised Christendom and the encroaching barbarity of the ‘infidel’. Whilst the conquest of Constantinople of 1453 did indeed became a potent symbol of Ottoman imperial ambition, the complexity of the cultural negotiations in the myriad encounters - diplomatic, mercantile, religious and military - of the following years refutes the Euro-centric assumptions of traditional historiography. 1453 to 1699: Cultural Encounters between East and West seeks to bring together exciting new work in this emerging field from across the international academic community. The product of a successful inter-disciplinary conference, this volume engages with fields of history, cultural studies, art history, literary theory and anthropology, comprehensively remapping the complex contours of East-West encounters. In the light of current world events, the need to historicise and contextualise this relationship is more urgent than ever.
Matthew Birchwood and Matthew Dimmock are visiting scholars at the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, Queen Mary, University of London and Leiden University