Alexander Bevilacqua

Alexander Bevilacqua

Assistant Professor of History

Hollander Hall Rm 225

Spring 2019 Class Hours

Mon/Wed – 11:00 am to 12:15 pm
Wed – 1:10 pm to 3:50 pm

Spring 2019 Office Hours

Mon – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm


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. 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 Qur’anic Studies, 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 Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Centre for History and Economics at the University of Cambridge, the Renaissance Society of America, the William F. Milton Fund (Harvard University), and the Society for French Historical Studies. He has held fellowships at the Huntington Library and at the Warburg Institute.


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.

Read an excerpt.

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

Reviews: Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Economist, The New Republic, 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

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


(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.

Research Interests

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

Thesis Advised

Rebecca Van Pamel ’19“The End is Near, the Turks are Here”: Instrumentalized History and the Politics of Siege Commemoration in 1883 Vienna