The Dutiful Daughters of the British Empire: Psychosocial Topology of The British Hospital in Smyrna


  • Nurten Birlik Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Türkiye
  • Orkun Kocabıyık Akdeniz University, Antalya, Türkiye
  • Hasan Baktır Erciyes University, Kayseri, Türkiye



topology, Smyrna, travel literature, Martha Nicol, heterotopia


Scholarship on the accounts of the Western travellers about the Ottoman Empire focuses on some commonly known writers only, and Ismeer, or Smyrna, and its British hospital in 1855, by a lady [M. Nicol] remains neglected. It is a diary written by a lady-nurse, Martha Nicol, who worked in the British hospital in Smyrna, during the Crimean War. She is tightly bound in with the imperial ideology and by reconceptualising the space in the hospital, the lady-nurses help the British soldiers achieve a sense of continuity between their home back in England and the host culture about which they know very little. By playing a formative role to transpose this hospital to a homely space in a foreign territory, the lady-nurses function as psychic and cultural stabilisers. This essay aims to decipher how the hospital space functions as an ideological heterotopia of deviance, and how the lady-nurses contribute to its power to inspire the idea of “at-homeness” in the soldiers and retain the ideological structuring mechanisms in this distant location by exploring the textual evidence in the book. This essay will also explore how power and ideology are contextualised in the psychosocial topology of the hospital.

Author Biographies

Nurten Birlik , Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Türkiye

Dr. Nurten Birlik is Professor of English literature in the Department of Foreign Languages and Education, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Türkiye. Her areas of interest include British Romantic Poetry, Literary Theory, Modern British Poetry, Lacanian Theory, Ecocriticism, Modern Turkish Poetry and Novel.

Orkun Kocabıyık, Akdeniz University, Antalya, Türkiye

Dr. Orkun Kocabıyık is Associate professor at the Department of English Language and Literature,  Akdeniz University, Antalya, Türkiye.  His research interests are travel literature, cultural encounters of Ottoman and British, Turkish literature written in English.

Hasan Baktır, Erciyes University, Kayseri, Türkiye

Dr. Hasan Baktır is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Erciyes University, Kayseri, Türkiye. He has a BA in English Language and Literature (1999) and an MA in English Literature (2002).


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How to Cite

Birlik , N., Kocabıyık, O., & Baktır, H. (2023). The Dutiful Daughters of the British Empire: Psychosocial Topology of The British Hospital in Smyrna. English Studies at NBU, 9(2), 187–206.