American Women Readers Encounter Turkey in the Shadow of Popular Romance

Publication year
Journal of American Studies of Turkey

This article is about "Demetra Vaka's In the Shadow of Islam, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1911" which isn't a romance in the usual sense, since the heroine, Millicent, escapes from the male lover she desires, rescued by another woman, so that

With In the Shadow of Islam, Vaka manipulates the literary conventions of the popular love story, the form of publishable writing most available to women readers and women writers in the early twentieth century, to create a narrative that by its conclusion replaces romantic love with a sexualized nationalism, American as well as Greek. [...]

Elpis turns to Millicent, expressing for the first time her fear that by the end of the revolution, Greeks will lose their property and their rights, most importantly their freedom to practice their Christian faith in the Ottoman Empire. She is shown clinging to Millicent, presenting readers with an image of a vulnerable but proud Greece turning to a younger put powerful female America, pure and bright with higher ideals and finally ready to relinquish her absorption in romantic love for a higher purpose. The close of the book presents a union of American expansionism and Greek nationalism combined with a plea for the support of educated American women who, with their growing mobility and newly freed energies, could find direction by enlisting themselves in the Greek cause to see “the end of Turks in Europe” (Vaka 315).