Alexander Bevilacqua

Alexander Bevilacqua

Associate Professor of History

Hollander Hall Rm 225
At Williams since 2017

Spring 2024 Class Hours

Mon / Wed – 11:00 am to 12:15 pm

Spring 2024 Office Hours

Tue – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
And By Appointment


B.A. Harvard University (2007)
M.Phil. Cambridge University (2008)
M.A. Princeton University (2010)
Ph.D. Princeton University, History (2014)



Early Modern Europe
(not offered 2024/25)


Reformations: Faith, Politics, and the World (not offered 2024/25)


European Intellectual History from Aquinas to Kant (not offered 2024/25)

Current Committees

  • Compensation Committee from Steering Committee


Alexander Bevilacqua, Associate Professor of History, studies early modern Europe (ca. 1450 to 1800). He teaches the history of Europe from Renaissance to Enlightenment, focusing in particular on global interactions and their cultural and intellectual ramifications.

Bevilacqua is the author of The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment (2018; paperback 2020). He also co-edited Thinking in the Past Tense: Eight Conversations (2019). His current book project, The World’s Triumph: Chivalry and Alterity in Early Modern Europe, investigates the performance of human difference at European princely courts. An excerpt from this research is forthcoming in the journal Past and Present.

His articles have appeared in History of European Ideas, Journal of Qur’anic Studies, Journal of Modern History, 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.

Bevilacqua’s research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Historical Association, the American Philosophical Society, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Centre for History and Economics at the University of Cambridge, the Folger Institute, the Renaissance Society of America, and the Society for French Historical Studies. He has held fellowships at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, the Huntington Library, the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, the Warburg Institute, and the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin.

Selected Publications


The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018. Paperback 2020.

Recognition: Winner of the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize and the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize. Shortlisted for the Longman/History Today Book Prize.

Translations: Arabic (Jarrous Press, 2019); Italian (Ulrico Hoepli Editore, 2019); Turkish (Yeditepe Basim Yayin Dagitim, 2020); Korean (Marco Polo Press, forthcoming).

Read an excerpt | Read an interview | Listen to a podcast: Ottoman History Podcast; New Books in History.

(w. F. Clark) Thinking in the Past Tense: Eight Conversations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019.

Translations: Traditional Chinese (The Commercial Press, 2021); Simplified Chinese (Peking University Press, forthcoming).


“Race-Making Festivities in Brandenburg-Prussia, 1652-1750.” Forthcoming in Past and Present.

A Dragoman and a Scholar: French Knowledge-Making in the Mediterranean from Old Regime to Bonaparte,” Journal of Modern History 94 (2022): 247–287.

(w. J. Loop) “The Qur’an in Comparison and the Birth of ‘scriptures.’Journal of Qur’anic Studies 20 (2018): 148–173.

How to Organise the Orient: D’Herbelot and the Bibliothèque Orientale.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 79 (2016): 213–261.

The Qur’an Translations of Marracci and Sale.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 76 (2013): 93–130.

(w. H. Pfeifer) “Turquerie: Culture in Motion, 1650–1750.” Past and Present, no. 221 (2013): 75–118.

Conceiving the Republic of Mankind: The Political Thought of Anacharsis Cloots.” History of European Ideas 38 (2012): 550–569.

Public Writing

Friend or Food?,” London Review of Books, 14 December 2023.

Lost in Leipzig,” London Review of Books, 29 June 2023.

The empathetic humanities have much to teach our adversarial culture,” Aeon, 15 January 2019.

Theses Advised

Jackson T. Hartigan ’23“There Were Giants in the Earth in Those Days:” The Natural History of the Human Body in the British Enlightenment. Winner of the Robert C. L. Scott Prize for the best thesis in U.S. or European History and of the Robert C. L. Scott Prize for Graduate Study in History.

Ben Weinstein ’22The World of a Company Scholar: Tracing “Connections” in India in the Late Eighteenth Century.

William Abersek ’21All that perchance shall e’er be known:” William Hunter’s Eighteenth-Century Collection of Medieval Manuscripts. Winner of the Robert C. L. Scott Prize for the best thesis in U.S. or European History.

Hannah Tager ’20Little Fools and Visionaries: Converso Children on Trial During the Spanish Inquisition. Winner of the Robert C. L. Scott Prize for the best thesis in U.S. or European History.

Kevin Silverman ’20“The Truth, Always the Truth and Nothing More Than the Truth”: Reimagining Spanish History After the Disaster of 1898.

Rebecca Van Pamel ’19“The End is Near, the Turks are Here”: Instrumentalized History and the Politics of Siege Commemoration in 1883 Vienna. Winner of the Robert C. L. Scott Prize for the best thesis in U.S. or European History.