Alexander Bevilacqua

Alexander Bevilacqua

Assistant Professor of History

Hollander Hall Rm 225

On Leave Spring 2022


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


Alexander Bevilacqua, Assistant Professor of History, studies early modern Europe (ca. 1450 to 1800). He offers courses on the history of Europe from Renaissance to Enlightenment, focusing in particular on European expansion across the globe and its cultural and intellectual ramifications.

Bevilacqua is the author of The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment (2018; paperback 2020), which won the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize from the American Historical Association. He also co-edited Thinking in the Past Tense: Eight Conversations (University of Chicago Press, 2019).

His articles have appeared or are forthcoming 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.

His 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 Huntington Library, the Rare Book School at the University of Viriginia, the Warburg Institute, and the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin.

His current projects include Other People’s History, a study of European efforts to reconstruct the histories of Asia, and Race and Royalty, an investigation of race-making at European princely courts.

In spring 2022 he is on leave as a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress.

Selected Publications


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

The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2018. Winner of the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize. Shortlisted for the Longman/History Today Book of the Year Prize. Paperback published in March 2020.

Read an excerpt | Read an interview

Listen to a podcast about the book: Ottoman History Podcast | New Books in History

Reviews: Wall Street JournalFinancial TimesThe EconomistThe New RepublicLondon Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), The Arab Weekly (UK), Standpoint (UK), Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany); Asiatische Studien/Études asiatiques; Eighteenth-Century Studies; Al Akhbar (Lebanon); Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt), The Historian; Reading Religion: A Publication of the American Academy of Religion; History of Humanities; Journal of Early Modern History; The Review of Metaphysics; Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung; Catholic Historical Review; Renaissance Quarterly; American Historical Review; Athenaeum Review; Avvenire (Italy); History Today; English Historical Review; Journal of Qur’anic Studies; Erudition and the Republic of Letters Politische Vierteljahresschrift (Germany); Yeni Şafak Kitap (Turkey).

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


“A Dragoman and a Scholar: French Knowledge-Making in the Mediterranean from Old Regime to Bonaparte and Beyond,” Journal of Modern History. Forthcoming in 2022.

“Beyond East and West” in Ann M. Blair and Nicholas Popper, eds., New Horizons for Early Modern European Scholarship. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021.

“‘Away With All the Greeks:’ Ancients, Moderns and Arabs in Étienne Fourmont’s ‘Oratio de Lingua Arabica’ (1715)’” in Jill Kraye and Jan Loop, eds., Scholarship Between Europe and the Levant: Essays in Honour of Alastair Hamilton. Leiden, Brill, 2020.

(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.


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

Theses Advised

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.