Ferenc Csirkes


  • Assistant Prof in the History of the Pre-Modern Islamicate World, History

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I welcome postgraduate (doctoral and master’s) students to work with me on any aspect of the history or literary culture of the pre-modern Islamicate world, especially Iran, Central Asia and the Ottoman Empire.

I have hitherto supervised master’s and doctoral students working on

Ottoman intellectual history
Ottoman religious history
Ottoman-Iranian history
Ottoman cultural history
History of Iran


Research activity per year

Personal profile


I studied Turkish, Persian and English in Hungary before I moved to the US, first to Bloomington, Indiana as a Fulbright visiting student; from there my path led to the University of Chicago, where I completed my PhD. Prior to arriving at the University of Birmingham, I taught at Central European University in Hungary, the University of Tübingen in Germany, Sabancı University in Turkey, and Simon Fraser University in Canada.

Research interests

I am a cultural, literary, and intellectual historian of medieval and early modern Iran, the Ottoman Empire and Central Asia. My research straddles the larger Persianate and Turkic worlds of the medieval and early modern eras, exploring the political, cultural, and social role of Muslim Turkic/Turkish (Ottoman, Chaghatay, Azerbaijani) literary traditions against their Persian and Arabic backgrounds. Relying on primary sources in all these languages and having an equal footing in Iranian, Ottoman, and Central Asian history, I study empire, cosmopolitanism, religious and ethnic identities, and processes of confessionalisation and vernacularisation in the late medieval and early modern periods. I am also interested in comparative and network-based approaches to global history, combining literary, intellectual, and cultural history, as well as historical sociolinguistics, while also asking questions relevant to social and religious history.

I am currently completing two monographic projects. Titled Sons of Japheth and Ali: Turkic Language and Ideology in Medieval and Early Modern Iran, the first book focuses on the relationship between literary language and political theology in medieval and early modern Islamic empires. Based on multilingual manuscripts, it explores how the Safavid, Ottoman and Mughal empires, as well as the Uzbek Khanates of Central Asia, all came from the same tribal matrix of the post-Mongol world but developed entirely different confessional, linguistic, and social arrangements in the early modern period, Iran becoming Shii and Persophone, while the Ottoman Empire and most of Central Asia Sunni and Turkophone. My second book project, tentatively titled Pen, Sword and Brush: Sadiqi Beg (1533-1610) and Self-Fashioning in Early Modern Iran, is an intellectual biography of a prominent but neglected bilingual poet and painter in Safavid Iran against the background of contemporary sea changes in patronage, literary and pictorial taste, as well as religious outlook and political centralisation.


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