Book Series Late Medieval and Early Modern Studies, vol. 20

Medieval and Early Modern Performance in the Eastern Mediterranean

Arzu Öztürkmen, Evelyn Birge Vitz (eds)

  • Pages: 576 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:82 b/w
  • Language(s):English, Latin, Greek
  • Publication Year:2014

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54691-9
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54739-8
  • E-book
  • Available

An exploration of traditional performances in the Eastern Mediterranean in the medieval and Early Modern periods.


"This collection is ambitiously large, and the editors have done yeoman's work in keeping it thematically coherent, at least within the individual sections; some of the essays are exceptional in their reach and originality, and overall Medieval and Early Modern Performance in the Eastern Mediterranean will have a place as a general reference to the state of the field of historical performance studies." (Anna Linden Weller, in: The Medieval Review, 15.10.22)

"Medieval and Early Modern Performance in the Eastern Mediterranean is a very large book with a wealth of articles, and it is difficult to do them justice in a review. (...) In general, the book is an important contribution. I found it useful to my own work and can confidently recommend it to scholars in folklore, as well as to historians and specialists in related disciplines." (Natalie Kononenko, in: Journal of Folklore Research. Review posted on March 18, 2015;

"This volume is truly a gem. The scholarship is well organized, deftly written, and I can say in earnest that every single contributor has made a contribution in the truest sense of the word. (...) I would have to stress that the reader should continue reading from essay to essay in this volume without putting it down, as there is a flow of argument no doubt intended by the editors. On that, I congratulate them. This is a novel volume of essays that addresses sociopolitics, social cognitive nuances, literature, and artistic expression in an accessible manner; a great read for those who are interested in the abovementioned subjects and those enthusiastic about learning about topics that I dare say are rarely investigated." (Alireza Korangy, in: Renaissance Quarterly 69, 1, 2016, p. 348-350)

«Cet ouvrage collectif réunit une somme impressionnante d’études traitant des différentes formes de performances qui construisent et reflètent la culture d’une région particulièrement complexe, la Méditerranée orientale, depuis le temps des croisades jusqu’à l’ère ottomane» (C. Heering, dans le Bulletin Codicologique Scriptorium, 2, 2015)  




This book brings to life an impressively broad array of performances in the Eastern Mediterranean. It covers many traditional types of performance, including singers, dancers, storytellers, street performers, clowns, preachers, shadow-puppeteers, fireworks displays, and semi-theatrical performances in folk and other celebrations. It explores performance of the secular as well as of the sacred in its many forms, including Sunni, Shiite, Sufi, and Alevi Muslims; Sephardic Jews and those in the Holy Land; and Armenian, Greek, and European Catholic Christians. The book focuses on the Medieval and Early Modern periods, including the Early Ottoman. Some papers reach backward into Late Antiquity, while others demonstrate continuity with the modern Eastern Mediterranean world.

The articles discuss evidence for performers and performance coming from archival sources, architectural and manuscript images, musical notation, historical and ethnographic accounts, literary works, and oral tradition. Across the broad range of issues, chronology, and geography, certain fundamental topics are central: concepts of drama and theatricality; varied definitions of ‘performance’ and related terms; the sacred and the profane, and their frequent intersection; and complex relations between oral and written traditions.



Part 1. Verbal Art as Performance

Metin And

Storytelling as Performance — METIN AND

The Maqama — Between a Tale and a One-Man Show: In Search of its Form of Performance — REVITAL REFAEL-VIVANTE

Orality, Text, and Performance in the Book of Dede Korkut — ARZU OZTURKMEN

Signals of Performability in the Croatian Glagolitic Legend of St John Chrysostom — MARIJA-ANA DURRIGL

The Performance of Joinville’s Credo — MICHAEL CURSCHMANN

Medieval Folktales, Modern Problems, and a Gifted Preacher:The Case of Rabbi Joseph Hayyim and the ‘Tale of a Fox that Left his Heart at Home’ — DAVID ROTMAN

‘The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus’: Can We Reawaken Performance of this Hagiographical Folktale? — EVELYN BIRGE VITZ

Part 2. Performance under Imperial Realms

How to Entertain the Byzantines: Some Remarks on Mimes and Jesters in Byzantium — PRZEMYS ŁAW MARCINIAK

Between Admiration, Anxiety, and Anger: Views on Mimes and Performers in the Byzantine World — TIVADAR PALAGYI

Performance and Ideology in the Exchange of Prisoners between the Byzantines and the Islamic Near Easterners in the Early Middle Ages — KORAY DURAK

Fireworks in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul — SURAIYA FAROQHI

Clowns at Ottoman Festivities — OZDEMIR NUTKU

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762): Her Turkish Performances — DANIELLE HAASE-DUBOSC

The Fusion of Zar-Bori and Sufi Zikr as Performance: Enslaved Africans in the Ottoman Empire — EHUD R. TOLEDANO

Part 3. Modes and Varieties of Entertainment

How Dark is the History of the Night, How Black the Story of Coffee, How Bitter the Tale of Love: The Changing Measure of Leisure and Pleasure in Early Modern Istanbul — CEMAL KAFADAR

One Man and His Audience: Comedy in Ottoman Shadow Puppet Performances — DARYO MIZRAHI

Shadow Theatre, the Karagoz (Kara Gyooz) and the Texts of Ibn Daniyal (1248–1311?) — MAS ’UD HAMDAN

Armenian Traditional Music and the Performance Practices in the Armenian Community of Jerusalem — NOUNE ZELTSBURG-POGHOSYAN

Constructing the Performed Identity of Sephardic Songs — JUDITH R. COHEN

Gypsy Musicians and Performances in the Ottoman Balkans — ELENA MARUSHIAKOVA and VESSELIN POPOV

Part 4. Iconography

Scenes of Performers in Byzantine Art, Iconography, Social and Cultural Milieu: The Case of Acrobats — VIKTORIA KEPETZI

Theatricality of Byzantine Images: Some Preliminary Thoughts — ANESTIS VASILAKERIS

Theatrical Features in Armenian Manuscripts — EMMA PETROSYAN

Capital Initials with Images of Musicians in Armenian Manuscripts — HRANT KHACHIKYAN

Glorious Noise of Empire — GABRIELA CURRIE

Part 5. Ritual Roots of Performance

Representing the Moulid: Salah Jahin’s Al-Layla al-Kabira between Populist and Nationalist Aspirations — SAMIA MEHREZ

Performative Conceptions of Social Change: The Case of Nevruz Celebrations in Pre-Ottoman and Ottoman Anatolia — YUCEL DEMIRER

Alevi Ritual Movement:Its Representation in Fifteenthand Sixteenth-Century Texts and Today — FAHRIYE DINCER

The Moreška Dance/Drama on the Island of Korčula (Croatia): A Turkish Connection? — ELSIE IVANCICH DUNIN

The Show and the Ritual: The Mevlevi Mukabele in Ottoman Times — CEM BEHAR

The Ritual of Vardan Mamikonyan — ZHENYA KHACHATRYAN

Epilogue: The Performative Turn in Recent Cultural History — PETER BURKE