Author Biography

Susan Spencer taught British and World Literature at the University of Central Oklahoma for twenty-nine years, and served as Director of Global Initiatives for UCO’s College of Liberal Arts from 2008 until she retired from the full-time faculty in 2020. An active member of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Association for Asian Studies, she is currently working with co-author Anh Dinh on a book about the Vietnamese poets Nguyễn Du and Hồ Xuân Hương. She recently published an article in the journal Education About Asia on the subject of the development of the smallpox vaccine from its origins in China and India.


In the long shadow of 9/11 and the ongoing COVID pandemic, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s Turkish Embassy Letters connect with the lived experience of today’s students, especially the cluster of eight letters dated 1 April 1717. By emphasizing parallels between Montagu’s observations and the students’ own lives, The Turkish Embassy Letters can add a modern dimension to the eighteenth century in general, challenges of gender, and texts written in and about the Muslim world.


Mary Wortley Montagu, Turkish Embassy Letters, Orientalism, Islamophobia, seraglio, inoculation, pandemic, smallpox