American Perceptions of the Late-Nineteenth Century Mediterranean Margo Katherine Wilke Undergraduate Research Internship Program Spring 2024 Accepted History, Geography, Travel Literature, US Foreign Policy My research project will focus on American perceptions of the Ottoman Mediterranean in the late-nineteenth century. The framework for this project is a travel diary dating to 1888 by Edith Wharton. Wharton visited dozens of places on her journey of 82 days, often visiting with US consular officials. Some of the Ottoman provinces that Wharton visited would become parts of countries we today identify as part of Europe or the Middle East, but conceptions of geography were much less clear cut in the late-nineteenth century. The “Middle East,” after all, is a neologism dating to the early twentieth century. My research delves into Wharton’s experiences in the Ottoman Mediterranean in order to understand how she and other Americans thought about the Ottoman Empire and Mediterranean affairs. In doing so, I hope to reconsider anachronistic simplifications of East and West. This project is part of research I am doing for a book-length study now under contract with Cambridge University Press. Stacy E Holden I seek two students who can assist with research of primary sources, such as:
--Ottoman census materials or articles that provide population statistics or other information about Mediterranean ports and cities
--research on events and historical conditions of places Wharton traveled
--examination of newspapers that Wharton and others of her social class read for information about the Ottoman Mediterranean
--assessment of digital archives online, such as FRUS (Foreign Relations of the US), NARA (National Archives and Records Administration), LoC (Library of Congress)

My project also requires students to assemble a bibliography as we move forward.
Students can find information about me and my work through the history department webpage or my personal website, Students should have a strong interest in history and libraries. They should not only be curious but also be the sort of person who likes putting together puzzles or reading mysteries. I will ask students to use library resources and to communicated with librarians to find answers to questions about the Ottoman world or the economic or political initiatives of the US in the Mediterranean. Students interested in history, political science or literary studies would find this interdisciplinary project of interest. Please note: The Margo Katherine Wilke Undergraduate Research Internship (Wilke) program is designed to support Purdue College of Liberal Arts undergraduates. As a result, students without a CLA major or minor may not be considered for this program. 3 10 (estimated)