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School of English and Drama

Dr Nil Palabiyik, MA (York), PhD (London)


British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow



I grew up in Turkey in what was then a small seaside town on the Mediterranean coast. I came to the UK to read English at the University of York where my interest in medieval manuscripts and early printed books began.

After working in the publishing industry in London and teaching Renaissance literature at an American Studies department in Istanbul, I completed a PhD on early modern printing at the Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway, University of London. My doctoral thesis examined the first Greek books printed in the Ottoman Empire by a monk and scholar who commenced his publishing activity in London in the 1620s.

I held visiting fellowships at the Scaliger Institute in Leiden and the Herzog-August-Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. I was Humboldt Fellow at LMU Munich in 2017–19 and worked at the University of Manchester before joining Queen Mary in 2021.


Research Interests:

  • Early modern book history, manuscript and print culture
  • Intellectual history and history of scholarship
  • Oriental learning in early modern Europe
  • Annotations, marginalia and marks on books and manuscripts
  • Migration, dissemination of knowledge and cultural encounters between East and West

Recent and On-Going Research

My British Academy-funded project considers the learning of oriental languages in Western Europe. I explore the intriguing relationship between Europe and the Ottoman Empire during the early seventeenth century through the medium of manuscripts, printed books and correspondence.

The project challenges the existing assumption that European scholars ‘independently deciphered’ literary, philosophical and scientific texts in Arabic, Persian and Turkish without recourse to the vast resources of Ottoman scholarship. On the contrary, I show that early modern oriental studies were, to a large extent, shaped by Turkish dictionaries, commentaries and other reference tools.

My forthcoming monograph tells a story not only of conflict and rivalry but also of curiosity and cooperation between European and Middle Eastern scholars in a Republic of Letters that encompassed Istanbul, Cairo, Aleppo and Damascus as well as Paris, Leiden, Oxford and Tübingen.



Turkish Books in Early Modern Europe, forthcoming with Routledge


‘A public debate on Cyril of Alexandria’s Views on the Procession of the Holy Spirit in Seventeenth-Century Constantinople: the Jesuit Reaction to Nicodemos Metaxas’s Greek Editions’, International Journal of the Classical Tradition, 27.3 (2020): 427–448 https://  

‘An Unsung Hero of Oriental Studies in Leiden: Anton Deusing and his Turkish Dictionaries’, Lias: Journal of Early Modern Intellectual Culture, 46.2 (2019): 157–200  

Justus Raphelengius’s Latin translation of Turkish folk tales’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 139.2 (2019): 333–360

‘The Last Letter from Étienne Hubert to Joseph Scaliger: Oriental Languages and Scholarly Collaboration in Seventeenth-Century Europe’, Lias: Journal of Early Modern Intellectual Culture and its Sources, 45.1 (2018): 115–146

‘Redundant Presses and Recycled Woodcuts: The Journey of Printing Materials from London to Constantinople in the Seventeenth Century’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 110.3 (2016): 273–298  

‘An Early Case of the Printer’s Self-Censorship in Constantinople’, The Library: Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, 16.4 (2015): 381–404

‘The Beginnings of Printing in the Ottoman Capital: Book Production and Circulation in Early Modern Constantinople’, Studies in Ottoman Science, 16.2 (2015): 3–32

Edited collections

Guest editor of Lias: Journal of Early Modern Intellectual Culture Special Issue on ‘Empires of Knowledge: How Ottoman Scholarship Shaped Oriental Studies in Seventeenth-Century Europe’ (2019): 137–325, with research articles by Vera Keller and Paul Babinski, and an afterword by Alastair Hamilton.

Introduction to the special issue

Public Engagement

Some of the blog posts I have been invited to write include

Rylands Library and Institute blog, ‘Rylands Persian MS 913: Oriental Studies between Leiden and Constantinople’,

Biblia Arabica blog, ‘Oriental Languages and Scholarly Collaboration in Seventeenth-Century Europe: Étienne Hubert and the Arabic Gospels’,

Rylands Library and Institute blog, ‘Conversations with an Ottoman Gentleman: Nathaniel Bland’s Paris Notebooks’,

Elsevier Connect blog, ‘Re-discovering the Orient through 17th-century Elzevier books’,