Alexander Bevilacqua

  • Williams College
  • Department of History
  • Assistant Professor of History

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 Philosophical Society, 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.

In 2020-2021, he will be a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin.