Lecture by Alexander Bevilacqua (Williams College) | The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment

Alexander Bevilacqua, Assistant Professor of History at Williams College, specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of early modern Europe (ca. 1450 to 1800).

His research examines Western understandings of human diversity and of non-Western religious and intellectual traditions. He offers courses on the history of Europe from Renaissance to Enlightenment, and in particular on the cultural and intellectual transformations of what has often been called the first global era.

Bevilacqua’s book, The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment, appeared with Harvard University Press in February 2018. Drawing on Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, and Latin sources gathered in seven countries from 2011 to 2016, it explains how and why European understandings of Islam and its culture transformed from the mid-seventeenth century to the mid-eighteenth. The Republic of Arabic Letters shows that the Western effort to learn about Islam and its religious and intellectual traditions issued not from a secular agenda but from the scholarly commitments of a select group of Catholics and Protestants. These authors cast aside inherited views and bequeathed a new understanding of Islam to the modern West.

Bevilacqua’s articles have appeared in History of European Ideas, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, and Past and Present. He was educated at Harvard College, the University of Cambridge, and Princeton University, from which he received his doctorate in 2014. From 2014 until 2017 he was a junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows.

Date/Time: 
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 4:00pm
Constituencies: 
All Welcome
Location: 
3335 Dwinelle Hall