Alexander Bevilacqua

Alexander Bevilacqua

Assistant Professor of History

Hollander Hall Rm 225

Spring 2018 Class Hours:

Tue/Thu – 9:55 am to 11:10 am

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)

Current Committees

  • Book Store Advisory Committee


Alexander Bevilacqua, Assistant Professor of History, 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.

Selected Publications


The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2018. Winner of the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize of Harvard University Press.

  • Read an excerpt on Literary Hub.
  • Listen to a podcast about the book.
  • Read the Wall Street Journal review.

(with F. Clark) Thinking in the Past Tense: Eight Conversations.. Forthcoming in December 2018 with University of Chicago Press.


“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. Helen 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.

Research Interests

Cultural and Intellectual History of Early Modern Europe; Early Modern Global History and Cultural Exchange; Europe and the Islamic World.