Douglas Howard


B.A., History, Western Michigan University
M.A., History, Indiana University
Ph.D., Uralic and Altaic Studies, Indiana University


"When I am not working, or even when I am, I like to listen to music, especially Paul Simon and world music of all kinds. I also like to play the piano and write music, watch Detroit Tigers baseball, and sip strong coffee. My wife Sandy and I have four terrific adult children, and we have just become grandparents."

Weekly Schedule
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I am in the final stages of a years-long book project, tentatively titled Amid the Ruins: A History of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1924. In the book I write about how humans cope with calamity, suffering, and the passage of time, using the main theme of the Ottoman worldview.

During the next few months, while the book goes to press, I am also trying to finish two other tasks. One is a second edition of my book on Turkey, with a new chapter on the Erdogan years since 2002. The other is a critical edition and English translation of a seventeenth-century Ottoman “Advice for Kings” treatise. I and a Hungarian colleague, Géza Dávid, who spent last summer at Calvin on a Fulbright fellowship, are collaborating on this project.

Prof Howard lived on Capitol Hill while serving as director of Calvin's semester in Washington, D.C. during the spring of 2012. While there he was also able to do some research in the Library of Congress for his book Amid the Ruins. He also received support for the book project in the form of a summer stipend fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He spent a month in Turkey doing research and will continue with writing here in Grand Rapids.

Once classes begin, students in Prof Howard's HIST 394 course, "U.S.-Middle East Relations," will have the chance to use documents from the Library of Congress and the State Department on their own research papers. The documents are U.S. government records related to the late Ottoman Empire and early Republic of Turkey, between 1910-1929.

Read Doug Howard's posts on Historical Horizons, the history department blog.

Academic interests

Prof. Howard has published a survey of the history of Turkey and articles on Ottoman institutional and literary history. He also has an ongoing project that will be a translation and study of a seventeenth-century Ottoman mirror for princes. But he has moved this to the back burner in order to work on writing a history of the Ottoman Empire, tentatively titled Amid the Ruins: The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1924. It is going to be a classic.

My research field is the history of the Ottoman Empire. I have published a few articles on how the Ottoman feudal cavalry worked, and on Ottoman scribes and the literary genre called “Advice for Kings.” I have also have a book on the history of Turkey from antiquity to modern times. At Calvin I teach courses on early world history, Middle Eastern societies, India, and U.S.-Middle East relations.

Every other year I organize and teach a wonderful off-campus interim course in Turkey. Look for it in interim 2017.

Courses taught


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Research and scholarship



The History of Turkey: The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations. Westport: CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.

Articles and Book Chapters

“From Manual to Literature: Two Treatises on the Ottoman Timar System.” Acta Orientalia 61 (2008): 87-99.

“Genre and Myth in the Ottoman Advice for Kings Literature.” In The Early Modern Ottomans: Remapping the Empire, edited by Virginia Aksan and Daniel Goffman, 137-166. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

 “It Was Called ‘Palestine’: The Land, History, and Palestinian Identity.” Fides et Historia 35/2 (Summer/Fall 2003).

“Ottoman Administration and the Timar System: Sûret-i Kânûnnâme-i ‘Osmânî Berây-i Tîmâr Dâden.” Journal of Turkish Studies 20 (1996): 46-125.

“Historical Scholarship and the Classical Ottoman Kanunnames.” Archivum Ottomanicum 14 (1995/96): 79-109.

“With Gibbon in the Garden: Decline, Death and the Sick Man of Europe.” Fides et Historia 26 (1994): 22-37.

“Central and Provincial Administrative Interaction in Timar Bestowals in the Early Seventeenth Century.” In Decision Making And Change In The Ottoman Empire, edited by Caesar Farah, 81-87. Kirksville, Mo.: The Thomas Jefferson University Press, 1993.

“The Life and Career of an Ottoman Sipahi, Second Half of the Sixteenth Century.” In Aspects of Altaic Civilizations III, edited by Denis Sinor, 47-57. Bloomington, Ind.: Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, 1990.

“Ottoman Historiography and the Literature of ‘Decline’ of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.” Journal of Asian History vol. 22, no. 1 (1988): 52-77.

“The Historical Development of the Ottoman Imperial Registry (Defter-i hakanî), Mid-Fifteenth to Mid-Seventeenth Centuries.” Archivum Ottomanicum vol. 11 (1986 [1988]): 213-230.

“‘Ayn ‘Ali Efendi and the Literature of Ottoman Decline (Abstract).” Turkish Studies Association Bulletin 11/1 (March, 1987): 18-20.

“The BBA Ruznamçe Tasnifi: A New Resource for the Study of the Ottoman Timar System.” Turkish Studies Association Bulletin 10/1 (March, 1986): 11-19.


Inalcik, Halil. The Balkans and the Middle East Under the Ottoman Empire.  Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Turkish Studies, 1993. Translations of five articles, previously published in Turkish, in a collection edited by their author.

Review Essay

“Three Recent Ottoman Histories” for Turkish Studies Association Journal 28/1-2 (2004 [2008]): 52-57.

Book Reviews

Book reviews published in Journal of Asian History, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, and regularly in The Turkish Studies Association Bulletin



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