• Calling for a historiographical shift in literary criticism, this essay stresses the expansionist vision of the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire, approaches its literature as a corpus of representation for imperial subjectivities, and thereby supplements the critique of the narrative of literary modernity identified with the orientalist E. J. W. Gibb. This essay argues that the tension between imperial expansionism and national indigenization constitutes a shaping force in Turkish literary modernity, urging scholars to investigate how the epistemology of the empire–influenced by the inter-imperial landscape of the nineteenth century–infiltrates the modern national literature and politics of Turkey.