The Republic of Arabic Letters | Alexander Bevilacqua

E348 | When and how did European scholars first begin to seriously study Islam and the Arabic language? It has often been assumed that Medieval misconceptions and polemic towards Muslims were not cast off until the secularism of the European Enlightenment. In this episode, we learn that the foundations of the modern Western understanding were actually laid as early as the 17th century. Alexander Bevilacqua shares his research on the network of Catholic and Protestant scholars he calls the “Republic of Arabic Letters.” These scholars went to great lengths to learn Arabic and gather Arabic books and manuscripts, and eventually produced careful translations of the Qur’an and histories of Muslim societies based on Arabic sources. See more at Alexander Bevilacqua is assistant professor of history at Williams College, where he teaches the history of early modern Europe. He is interested in the cultural and intellectual transformations of what is often considered the first global era. Maryam Patton is a second year PhD student at Harvard University in the joint History and Middle Eastern Studies program. She is interested in Early Modern cultural exchanges, and her dissertation studies cultures of time and temporal consciousness in the Eastern Mediterranean during the 15th and 16th centuries. Shireen Hamza is a doctoral student in the History of Science department at Harvard University. Her research focuses broadly on the history of science and medicine in the Islamicate Middle Ages, especially in the Indian Ocean World. CREDITS Episode No. 348 Release Date: 23 February 2018 Recording Location: Cambridge, MA Audio editing by Maryam Patton Music: From, Baglamamin Dugumu by Necmiye Ararat and Muzaffer, and Adonay by Grandelavoix off the album Cypriot Vespers. Bibliography courtesy of Alexander Bevilacqua available at

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