AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 4, Number4. October   2020                                Pp.72 -83

The Mediterranean World and the ‘Turk’ in Shakespeare’s Representation of the British Empire

Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Languages
University Abderahmane Mira
Bejaia, Algeria 

Bouteldja RICHE

Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Languages
University Mouloud Mammeri
Tizi Ouzou, Algeria


This research explores Shakespeare’s representation of the so-called British Empire in its contact with other jostling empires, most notably the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean. To this end, four of Shakespeare’s Mediterranean plays Othello, the Moor of Venice (1603), The Merchant of Venice (1596), The Tempest (1611), and Cymbeline (1611) are taken understudy. By considering the Postcolonial historicist approach developed by literary scholars such as Stephen Greenblatt and Edward Said, the research argues that the issues of imperial relationships in Shakespeare are not solely centered on the transatlantic colony of Virginia, but it was also extended to the Mediterranean basin. The latter, during Tudor England and, later, Stuart Britain had much more trade and diplomatic activity than on the Atlantic seaboard. This economic activity created a cosmopolitan zone of contact wherein people of the Orient elbowed people from the West. This encounter gave rise to a pre-modern form of Orientalism, which is reflected in Shakespeare’s celebration of marital-cum-political endogamous relationships in his four plays mentioned earlier.

Cite as:

Houria HALIL, H.,&  RICHE, B. (2020). The Mediterranean World and the “Turk” in Shakespeare’s Representation of the British Empire. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 4 (4) 72 -83.


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Houria Halil has been lecturing on English Literature and Civilization at the University of
Abderahmane Mira of Bejaia, Algeria, since 2011. Her research interests are in the pre-modern
area with a particular focus on Shakespeare. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4829-4576

Bouteldja Riche is a professor at the University of Tizi-Ouzou, Algeria. In addition to teaching,
he is a curriculum designer, textbook writer, and author of several books in French and English.