Nurten Kilic-Schubel joined Kenyon College in 2001. Her areas of research focuses on Islamicate history, especially political culture, state-building and gender in medieval and early modern Central Eurasia. She has spent significant amounts of time in Turkey and Central Asia, most recently as a Fulbright scholar in Kyrgyzstan in 2010. 

Kilic-Schubel is currently working on two research projects. The first is a book-length project entitled, "A State with Many Heads: Culture and State-Building in Early Modern Central Asia." The second explores women's writing and literary culture in early modern Central Asia. She teaches a wide range of courses related to Central Eurasia and the Middle East in both the pre-modern and modern periods including Ottoman Empire, Islamicate World and women and gender in the Middle East.

Areas of Expertise

Islamic history, history of Central Eurasia, Ottoman history, women and gender in Islamic history.


1999 — Doctor of Philosophy from University of Ankara, Turkey

1994 — Master of Arts from University of Ankara, Turkey

1991 — Bachelor of Arts from Middle East Tech Univ, TK

Courses Recently Taught

This course is designed to introduce students to the study of Asia and the Middle East within the context of the global humanities. It serves as a sampler, which exposes students to the rich diversity of Asian and Islamicate humanities. The seminar explores a wide range of primary sources from different places and historical periods. These may include such diverse materials as the memoirs of the medieval Muslim traveler Ibn Battuta, "The Analects of Confucius," readings from the "Vedas" and "Upanishads," Farid ud din Attar's "The Conference of the Birds," Kurosawa's "Rashomon," Rabindranath Tagore's "The Home and The World," short fiction from the modern Palestinian author Ghassan Kanafani and examples of contemporary Chinese science fiction. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Only open to first-year students.

"The Silk Road" is a rather misleading term coined in 1877 by Ferdinand von Richthofen. It refers to a vast network of trade routes that connected East, South, and Southeast Asia with the Mediterranean region, North Africa, and Europe. While travel and migration along these routes date back to prehistoric times and continue today, communication via the land routes across the Eurasian continent primarily flourished from the second century B.C.E. through the 15th century C.E., most notably linking China with western Asia and the Mediterranean region. And while silk was one of the major products transported from China to the West as far back as the Roman Empire, the trade, especially in such other luxury goods such as spices (from India) and gemstones (from western Asia), was active in both directions. Along with the trade in material goods, the Silk Road was the medium for cultural exchange. One of the prime examples of this was the spread of Buddhism from India into Afghanistan, China, Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia. As an extensive and many-layered system of economic and cultural exchange, the Silk Road can therefore can be considered a pre-modern example of what today we call globalization. This course will surveys the history of economic and cultural exchange along the Silk Road from prehistoric times to the present day. We specifically will examine geographic factors, the various ethnicities and empires that contributed to Silk Road history, the exchange of goods and technologies, the religions of the Silk Road, and the spread of artistic traditions across Asia. The general aims arewill be to enable students to think critically about Asia (or Eurasia) in a more holistic way, to understand the interconnections of our various academic disciplines and to appreciate some of the rich cultural heritages and exchanges that have contributed to our world. This counts toward the social science diversification requirement when paired with a course in HIST. No prerequisite.

This capstone seminar is taught by Asian Studies Program faculty in rotation and is organized around a common theme that integrates the various disciplines and regions of Asia. Through readings, films, guest lectures and other activities, the course leads students to synthesize their academic and personal (e.g., off-campus) experiences in a broader comparative perspective. Students produce work that examines one or more topics of their own interest within the comparative Asian framework. Required for Asian studies concentrators and joint majors. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. No prerequisite. Permission of instructor required. Senior standing. Offered every spring.

This course surveys the history of the Islamic(ate) world from the rise of Islam in the sixth century to the rise of post-Mongol-Muslim empires -- the Ottomans, the Safavids, the Mughals -- in the 16th century. The course especially focuses on the formation and expansion of Islam as a global civilization and the historical development of the social, cultural, religious and commercial networks and institutions that connected the Islamicate world during these centuries. Among the topics to be covered are the life and career of the Prophet Muhammad and the emergence of Islam; the expansion of the Islamicate world through conquests, conversions and commercial networks; the formation of various Islamic polities and empires, such as the Abbasids, the Fatimids, the Seljuks and the Mamluks; and the issues of authority, power and legitimacy that confronted these polities. It also examines the historical development of Islamic institutions such as Sufism and religious law. This counts toward the premodern and Asia/Africa requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every year.

This course introduces the history of one of the great empires of the premodern period. Founded in the late 13th century and lasting until the 1920s, the Ottoman Empire was one of the longest-lasting and most successful polities in history. Although founded and ruled by Muslim Turks, the Ottoman Empire was in reality a multiethnic, multicultural religious entity, which at its height contained territories in the Balkans, "the Middle East" and North Africa. It left a significant political and cultural legacy, which continues up to our time. In this course, we examine the entire span of Ottoman history, from the formation of the empire until its dissolution in the aftermath of World War I. Topics to be covered include the rise of the Ottoman state in the 13th century and how it became an empire; the role of Islam in Ottoman cultural and political life; the problems of governing a religiously and ethnically pluralist empire; the changing nature of Ottoman politics and administration; some aspects of Ottoman cultural and social life; women and gender in the Ottoman empire; Ottoman relations with Europe; Ottoman responses to modernity; the rise of nationalism; and the events leading up to the eventual creation of the modern Turkish republic in the Ottoman heartland. This counts toward the premodern and Asia/Africa requirements and the colonial/imperial field for the major. No prerequisite: Sophomore standing.

This course examines the social, economic and political transformation people have experienced in the Middle East, with a focus on the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics include the impact of the changing world economy and European imperialism, the emergence of nation-states, gender relations, and the role of religion in political and cultural life. The geographical focuses of the course include Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and the central Arab lands. This counts toward the modern and and Asia/Africa requirements and the colonial/imperial field for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every one or two years.

Both film and fiction have played significant roles in the so-called "Modern Middle East" as means of interpreting the past as well as constructing present realities and issues. This seminar uses novels and film as lenses to explore major historical dynamics and trends in the history of this region in the 20th century. We examine works created by artists from a number of different countries, including Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Palestine, Afghanistan and Algeria, as well as examples of Western imaginings of the region. Themes to be explored will include "Orientalism" and representations of the "Middle East," colonialism, nationalism and resistance, responses to development and globalization, understandings of ethnicity and identity, images of gender relations, and the changing roles of religion. This counts toward the modern and Asia/Africa requirements for the major. No prerequisite. Sophomore standing.

This seminar examines women's history and the cultural constructions of gender in the so-called Middle East in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Examining a rich variety of historical sources – religious texts, literary writings, women's personal writings, films and images – we explore women's lives in a variety of cultural and historical contexts. The course addresses a variety of topics, including the role of religion in the construction of discourse concerning women, the impact of colonialism and nationalism on gender politics, and the nature of women’s movements. This course also discusses the rise and impact of transnational feminism, particularly in the context of current conflicts in the region. This counts toward the modern and Asia/Africa requirements and the women and gender field for the major. No prerequisite. Sophomore standing.

This course focuses on the conceptual frameworks used by historians and on debates within the profession about the nature of the past and the best way to write about it. The seminar prepares students of history to be productive researchers, insightful readers and effective writers. The seminar is required for history majors and should be completed before the senior year. Open only to sophomores and juniors. This counts toward the practice and theory requirement for the major. Declared history or international studies major only.

This seminar explores the rich and dynamic history of modern Iran from the late 19th century to the present. Paying close attention to broader regional and global contexts, we focus on revolutionary moments and major transformations in Iranian politics, culture and society, such as the Constitutional Revolution of 1908, the 1953 Anglo-American Coup, the Islamic Revolution of 1978-79 and the Green Revolution in 2009. The course involves a close reading and critical analysis of a range of primary sources (such as memoirs, novels and films) produced mostly by Iranian artists, intellectuals and activists. We examine a variety of themes, including the construction of Iranian national identity, meanings and experiences of modernity, revolutions, the discourse surrounding gender roles and sexuality, and the role of Islam in politics and culture. We specifically focus on the revolution of 1978-79, one of the seminal events of the 20th century, and Iran’s post-revolutionary experience as an Islamic republic. Finally, we examine critical dimensions of Iranian political and cultural engagement with the rest of the world. Through this course, students gain a better appreciation for and understanding of the complex and dynamic history of Iran. Along the way, we hone our skills in critical historical thinking and writing. This counts toward the modern and Asia/Africa requirements for the major, as well as toward the Asian and Middle East studies joint major and Islamic Civilization and Cultures Concentrations. No prerequisite. Sophomore standing. Offered every three years.

The goal of this course is to give each history major the experience of a sustained, independent research project, including formulating a historical question, considering methods, devising a research strategy, locating and critically evaluating primary and secondary sources, placing evidence in context, shaping an interpretation and presenting documented results. Research topics are selected by students in consultation with the instructor. Classes involve student presentations on various stages of their work and mutual critiques, as well as discussions of issues of common interest, such as methods and bibliography. Open only to senior history majors. This counts toward the senior research seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: HIST 387. Offered every fall.

Individual study is available to students who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a focused research project on a topic not regularly offered in the curriculum. This option is restricted to history majors and cannot normally be used to fulfill distribution requirements within the major. To qualify, a student must prepare a proposal in consultation with a member of the history faculty who has suitable expertise and is willing to work with the student over the course of a semester. The two- to three-page proposal should include a statement of the questions to be explored, a preliminary bibliography, a schedule of assignments, a schedule of meetings with the supervising faculty member and a description of grading criteria. The student also should briefly describe prior coursework that particularly qualifies him or her to pursue the project independently. The department chair must approve the proposal. The student should meet regularly with the instructor for at least the equivalent of one hour per week. At a minimum, the amount of work submitted for a grade should approximate that required, on average, in 300- or 400-level history courses. Individual projects will vary, but students should plan to read 200 pages or more a week and to write at least 30 pages over the course of the semester. Students are urged to begin discussion of their proposals with the supervising faculty member and the department chair the semester before they hope to undertake the project. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study by the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval. Proposals must be submitted by the third day of classes to the department chair.