Aubin’s The Noble Slaves, Montagu’s Spanish Lady, and English Feminist Writing about Sexual Slavery in the Ottoman World
Abstract

This article analyzes Penelope Aubin’s popular novel The Noble Slaves (1722) alongside Mary Wortley Montagu’s Turkish Embassy Letters (1763), particularly her letter “To the Countesse of——” (May 1718), which depicts the enslavement of a Spanish “Lady.” By contrasting these two authors, I show the difficulty that feminist thinkers had in forging an Enlightenment appreciation for the Islamic world and a critique of Islamic slave institutions at the same time. The ways in which Aubin and Montagu deploy proand anti-Islamic sentiments in combination with varying levels of attention to the psycho-sexual trauma of female enslavement in the Ottoman world is emblematic of larger trends in the period. An understanding of this dynamic can help us to think more clearly about how we have inherited these tensions in our own scholarly work on feminism, slavery, and the English encounter with the Ottoman world.


pdf