John Curry

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John Curry

Associate Professor



John Curry, associate professor, received his B.A. in history with a minor in sub-Saharan African Studies from Northwestern University (1992). After spending a year in Cairo, Egypt and other parts of the Near East on a Fulbright scholarship during the 1992-93 academic year, he returned to acquire a dual M.A. from The Ohio State University in both the department of History and Arabic Language (1998). After several years of work and research in Turkey’s manuscript libraries and archives, he completed his dissertation on early modern Ottoman religious history and received his Ph.D. in history from The Ohio State University (2005).

His research focuses on the history of mystical, religious, and intellectual movements in the Ottoman Empire and its environs. His first book, The Transformation of Muslim Mystical Thought in the Ottoman Empire: The Rise of the Halveti Order 1350-1650, was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2010 to strong reviews. This was followed by an edited volume of twelve articles on aspects of Islamic mysticism co-edited with Prof. Erik S. Ohlander, Sufism and Society: Arrangements of the Mystical in the Muslim World 1200-1800, and published by Routledge Press (2012), of which he co-wrote the introduction and a chapter in the volume entitled "The Meeting of the Two Sultans': Three Sufi Mystics Negotiate with the Court of Murad III."

More recently, he has published the landmark reference article on “Sufism in the Ottoman Empire” in the Routledge Handbook on Sufism (2021), and “Sufi Spaces and Practices” in A Companion to Early Modern Istanbul (2022), a pioneering project on the urban history of the Ottoman Empire. He also worked as part of a team that translated the universal geographical compendium of the Ottoman scholar and polymath Katip Celebi, which was published by Brill as An Ottoman Cosmography: Translation of Cihannüma in 2021. A critical work which is the longest translation of any Ottoman source into English, the translation demonstrates the intersection between newly-acquired European geographies like the Mercator Atlases and the geographical traditions of the Islamic world, along with the Ottoman reception of the Scientific Revolution. He has also published a number of scholarly articles and chapters in various forums in both English and Turkish.

Prof. Curry has developed a two-semester survey in World History, covering global history during its ancient and medieval (Origins to 1500 C.E.) and early modern and modern (1500 C.E.-present) eras. He also developed a two-semester course in the history of the Near East and Islamic world, covering from 500 C.E. to the present, along with a course on the impacts of climate change on world history, commencing with the Late Bronze Age. He is currently working on a National Endowment for the Humanities project to provide an annotated translation of the Khitaynameh, or “Book of China,” which is an account of a Persian merchant to the Ming Dynasty court. He also serves as a representative on the Advanced Placement World History Exam Development Committee, which helps to produce questions for the national exam for high school students. His current research projects focus on the intersection between Mediterranean corsairs and religious movements, along with surviving manuscript libraries of Sufi orders in the Ottoman capital.

Expert Areas

  • Near Eastern and Islamic History
  • The Ottoman Empire
  • World History
  • Mediterranean History
  • Environmental History