Gerald MacLean is currently Professor of English Literature at the University of Exeter (UK), founder and co-director of Exeter Turkish Studies, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and of the Royal Historical Society of London. He first visited Istanbul in 1975 and has returned to Turkey many times since, including a period as visiting professor at Bo─čazici University in 2001.
A scholar of early-modern English literature and its historical contexts, since 1993 he has devoted his research research to the many works published in English during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries describing the Ottoman Empire and charting the nature and range of East-West encounters during the early modern period. His book, The Rise of Oriental Travel: English Visitors to the Ottoman Empire, 1580-1720 (2004) was published in Turkish as Do─ču’ya Yolculu─čun Yükseli┼či: Osmanl─▒ ─░mparatorlu─čun ─░ngiliz Konuklar─▒ (1580-1720) (2006).
In 2004 he convened a major international conference on the Eastern origins of the European Renaissance, published as Re-Orienting the Renaissance (2005), and in 2006 convened an international conference on representations of Turkey, past and present, published as Writing Turkey: Explorations in Turkish History, Politics and Cultural Identity (2006).
His most recent book, Looking East: English Writing and the Ottoman Empire before 1800 (2007) recently appeared in Turkish as Do─ču’ya Bak─▒┼č (2009). In April 2009 he convened a major international conference at Exeter on ‘Britain and the Muslim World: Historical Perspectives’ that was supported by the British Academy.
He is a founding member of The Evliya Çelebi Way Project, an international group of scholars and equestrians who travelled across western Anatolia on horseback in the autumn of 2009 following the route of the great Ottoman travel writer and historian. This project of historical re-enactment has been supported by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and will eventuate in a UNESCO European Cultural Route.
A second ride, from Gaziantep to Aleppo and back to Sanliurfa, is being planned for 2011, the 400th anniversary of Evliya’s birth. With co-author Nabil Matar, he is currently completing Britain and the Islamic World, 1558-1727 for Oxford University Press.