Podcast | “Navigating the Book of Navigation“, Boston College Podcast Series
The Kitab-ı Bahriye كتاب بحرية, or Book of Navigation, is an Ottoman atlas of the Mediterranean produced by the Ottoman corsair, navigator, mapmaker, and navy admiral, Piri Reis (d. 1554). Having originally drawn a large portolan map of the Mediterranean, Piri expanded the content, produced it as a book, and presented it to Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. The atlas contains some 240 maps of the Mediterranean coast along with a textual description, in verse and in prose. The rhymed verse introduction describes the navigation achievements of the Spanish and Portuguese mentioning the voyages of “Kolomb”, that is, Christopher Columbus.
In this podcast series, the students of the course Podcasting the Ottomans explore the Book of Navigation to tease out the practical and ideological meanings of maps, to understand some aspects of Ottoman society, and to comment on the nature of empire and inter-imperial competition in the early-modern world.
Navigating the Book
Gage Higgins (BC ’23) opens The Book of Navigation to introduce the series
Piri with Peers
Dana Sajdi calls up scholars to discuss with scholars Piri Reis’ life and work.
An Urban Phenomenon
Why are the pictures of Cairo and Venice so vivid and beautiful in The Book of Navigation?
Piri and the Portuguese
The Portuguese were imperial “infidels”. Why did Piri Reis admire them so much?
The Book of Navigation includes images of religious architecture. How did the Ottomans manage religious diversity?
The New World
Piri Reis wrote his book 20 years after Columbus’ voyages. What does his work tell us about Ottoman attitudes towards the Americas?
Remember the Ladies
The expression cherchez la femme is anything by sexist in this episodes. Boston College women seek Ottoman women builders in Piri Reis’ maps.
The course, the podcast series, and the bonus videos would not have been possible without the help of scores of good people. The podcasters Sam Dolbee of Venderbilt University, Chris Gratien of University of Virginia, and Zachary Davis of Lyceum Educational Audio Studio; and the radio journalist Durrie Bousceran came in to train us. Maryam Patton of Harvard University lent her sound engineering expertise and cleaned up our amateur audio work. Ashley Dimmig at the Walters Art Museum guided us through the manuscript (whose images appear on this site). Bee Lehman, BC Senior Liaison Librarian helped us on both the bibliographical and digital levels. Stacy Moulis, the History Department Administrator made our lives much easier. Elizabeth Shlala, Assistant Dean of the Core, encouraged the ideas of podcasting the Ottomans and helped us realize our goals. The History Department gave up precious real estate to allow us to establish a Pod Studio.
Many scholars have graciously and generously volunteered their effort and time: Emine Fetvacı (Boston College); Zayde Antrim (Trinity College); Lia Markey (the Newberry Library); Amy Singer (Brandeis University); Giancalro Casale (University of Minnesota); Pınar Emiralioğlu (Sam Houston State University); and Yossef Rapoport (Queen Mary University of London). Some of these scholars spent hours talking to us. Elif Sezer-Aydınlı spent an inordinate amount of time reconciling the pages of the manuscript of the Kitab-ı Bahriye with those of the printed copy for the use of the students.
Some students at Boston College were instrumental since the course’s inception: Annie Ward (BC ’21) helped collate a bibliography; Khalil Sawan (PhD candidate) contributed to the vision of the course and set up the Pod Studio; Griffin Bassett (BC ’24) and Abdul R Abbas (BC ’24) edited many videos; and finally Gage Higgins (BC ’23) had to inhabit many roles to do variously with bibliographical, logistical, digital, auditory, administrative, or scholarly nature. He was the class whip and Helper-in-All-Things.
Finally, thanks to the 30 students who enrolled in this experimental course. Most of them had no prior knowledge of either podcasting or the Ottomans, but they endured in good cheer and with much patience.
This course and the associated Pod Studio would have been possible without financial support of two internal awards: the Teaching, Advising, and Mentoring Grant and the Innovation in Graduate Education Grant.
Dana Sajdi, Associate Professor, History, Boston College.