University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Joshua M. White

Associate Professor, History


“An Epic Tale of Sorrow and Joy: Slavery, Migration, and the Mediterranean Journeys of an Ottoman Manuscript”

What meaning did a fictional Ottoman tale and the manuscript containing it have to those who copied, read, heard, and owned it? An Epic Tale of Sorrow and Joy is an interdisciplinary microhistory that explores the many meanings, uses, and journeys of an otherwise unremarkable manuscript—the only extant copy of an eponymous Ottoman Turkish story of forced migration, fortune, and loss set in the seventeenth-century Mediterranean—held at the British Library. Tracing the parallel lives of the story’s characters and the manuscript’s early nineteenth-century Ottoman and European owners, this study considers the contexts in which such manuscripts were produced, consumed, collected, and sold, and the lives of the migrants, travelers, and slaves that inspired them. By following this unique manuscript from Izmir to Istanbul and Corfu to London, I aim to bring to light a lost history of cultural exchange and appropriation, travel and migration. 


Joshua M. White is Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia. A specialist in the social, legal, and diplomatic history of the early modern Ottoman Empire and Mediterranean world, he is the author of Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean (Stanford University Press, 2017).