Oscar Aguirre Mandujano

Wolf Humanities Center Faculty Fellow

20202021 Forum on Choice

Oscar Aguirre Mandujano

Assistant Professor of History

Oscar Aguirre-Mandujano is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. He studies early modern Ottoman intellectual history, and its connections to literature, poetry, and bureaucracy. Aguirre-Mandujano is currently working on his first monograph, which examines the relation between literary composition and the transformation of political thought in the early modern Ottoman Empire. Aguirre-Mandujano’s research and teaching are part of a broader scholarly project to uncover the dynamics of intellectual production and communication in the early modern Islamic world through the analysis of contemporary political debates and the material channels in which ideas circulated and thrived. Aguirre-Mandujano’s teaching interests include Ottoman history, Islamic empires in the early modern world, books and readers in the Islamic world, and horse and animal sacrifice in world history.

The Afterlives of Choice: Regret, Defiance, and Morality among Early Modern Ottoman Bureaucrats

Afterlives of Choice investigates the strategies Ottoman scholars used to shift narratives about morality in the sixteenth century. I focus on biographical dictionaries of poets, which were instrumental in the creation of an imperial literary canon. Life stories were often used to comment on the moral quality of scholars. Biographers monopolized control over the narration of life choices, what informed them, and what determined them. Many scholars depicted in the dictionaries contested these narratives. By contrasting biographical dictionaries with self-narratives, I analyze dissenting voices that challenged the moralizing ethos of the dictionaries. Ottoman scholars seized the consequences of their decisions and re-framed their own life stories. The afterlives of their choices —regret, learning, defiance— provided a possibility to shape the future by reclaiming their past.