Alexander Bevilacqua

Alexander Bevilacqua teaches history at Williams College. The Republic of Arabic Letters was published in 2018.

Not a Prophet: Black Jewish Messiah?

Alexander Bevilacqua, 18 July 2024

David Reubeni​ posed a puzzle to contemporaries; he still poses one today. The Mediterranean world was turbulent in the early decades of the 16th century. The Ottoman Empire toppled the Mamluks in 1517, giving the sultan control over Egypt, Syria and much of the Arabian Peninsula; Western Christian rulers feared that they might be next. In the wake of Martin Luther’s censure of the...

Friend or Food?

Alexander Bevilacqua, 14 December 2023

Under​ what circumstances would you eat your pet? For Jean de Léry, a 16th-century French missionary, this wasn’t a hypothetical question. During a treacherous Atlantic crossing from Brazil to Europe, with supplies running low, some of his fellow passengers killed and ate their monkeys and parrots when hunger struck. Others waited until they had almost starved before putting...

Lost in Leipzig: Forgotten Thinkers

Alexander Bevilacqua, 29 June 2023

‘To devote our life to authorship,’ Isaac D’Israeli wrote, ‘is not the true means of improving our happiness or our fortune.’ In Calamities of Authors (1812), he chronicled the lives of writers he considered at once ‘the most honoured, and the least remunerated’. Some of these men of letters were ‘driven to madness by indigence and...

Misrepresentations: The Islamic Enlightenment

Dmitri Levitin, 22 November 2018

‘Oriental history​,’ the German philologist Johann Jakob Reiske wrote in 1747, ‘is very worthy of the study of an honest mind, and does not deserve any less than European...

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