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📘 Book Title The Teaching And Learning Of Arabic In Early Modern Europe
👤 Book AuthorCharles Burnett
🖨️ Total Pages366
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🌐 LanguageEnglish
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The Teaching and Learning of Arabic in Early Modern Europe Edited by Jan Loop – Alastair Hamilton – Charles Burnett


The idea of this book goes back to a conference on The Learning and Teaching of Arabic in Early Modern Europe held on 16 November 2013 at the National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, RMO), in Leiden.

This conference celebrated the beginning of an international collaborative research project Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship, funded by the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) joint research program ‘Cultural Encounters’.

 The conference also inaugurated an exhibition on 400 years of Arabic studies in the Netherlands at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.

 The exhibition was organised by Dr Arnoud Vrolijk, who also co-authored a book on the same subject.1 For this volume the papers we heard during the one-day event have been complemented by a number of additional contributions and we are very happy to be able to present a wide-ranging panorama of this significant episode in the history of scholarship.

The research project Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern Europe has grown out of the activities and ideas supported by the Centre for the History of Arabic Studies in Europe, at the Warburg Institute.

The essays in this volume shed light on how, for what purposes, and to what extent the Arabic language was taught and studied by European scholars, theologians, merchants, diplomats and prisoners, covering a wide geographical area from the Levant to northern and southern Europe.

The essays are not entering uncharted waters. In recent times, the history of European interest in the Arab world has attracted evergrowing attention from students of the history of early modern scholarship.

Since Johann Fück’s pioneering and still useful survey of the history of Arabic studies in Europe of 19552, a number of monographs and shorter studies by Peter M. Holt, Robert Jones, Alastair Hamilton, Mordechai Feingold, Gerald J. Toomer and others have uncovered new details about the material and institutional conditions, the scholarly and ideological objectives, as well as the technical qualities of Arabic studies in Europe from the sixteenth century onwards.

One of the most valuable contributions of the essays collected in this book, however, is that they look beyond the institutional history of Arabic studies and consider the importance of alternative ways in which the study and teaching of Arabic was pursued.

In his essay Learning Arabic in Early Modern England, Mordechai Feingold makes a convincing case for the importance of ‘mutual support groups’, private instruction and solitary study for the acquisition of the language in England, even after the establishment of Arabic professorships in Oxford and Cambridge in the 1630s.

His search for traces of Arabic teaching and learning on the margins of the academic world suggests that there was a far greater range of opportunities to learn this language than has previously been assumed. A point in case is the life of the famous itinerant scholar Solomon Negri from Damascus, who taught Arabic all over Europe to scholars such as Louis Picques, Frederick Rostgaard, Christian Benedikt Michaelis, and Johann Heinrich Callenberg. In his pioneering essay on the life and work of this fascinating figure, John-Paul Ghobrial confirms the significance of the private and bespoke teaching of Arabic.

 By following Negri on his life journey from Damascus to Paris, Rome, London, Istanbul and Halle, Ghobrial also sounds out the many different modes and practices of teaching and learning Arabic that existed at different places and in different spaces of learning.

Not only does the life and teaching of this native speaker highlight the tension between institutionalised and private teaching, but it also illustrates the discrepancy between ‘classical’ and vernacular Arabic.

Often overlooked, the differences between the many written and spoken registers of the Arabic language and the ways these differences were ignored, misunderstood or incorporated into the teaching of Arabic in early modern Europe are treated in many essays in this collection.

Clearly, the use and ultimate purpose of language acquisition often deter-mines the register that is taught.

This is visible in one of the very earliest contributions to the study of Arabic in early modern Europe, Pedro de Alcalá’s edition of Arabic grammar and an Arabic-Spanish glossary, the Arte para ligeramente saber la lengua Araviga and the Vocabulista aravigo en letra castel-lana, both published in 1505.

 Intended as tools for missionary work among the recently conquered Muslims of Granada, the two books aimed to teach the local Arabic dialect and not the classical literary Arabic.

One of the central arguments of Aurélien Girard’s contribution, Teaching and Learning Arabic in Early Modern Rome: Shaping a Missionary Language, is that the predominantly missionary purpose of Arabic teaching in Rome had consequences for the manner in which the language was taught there. As a result of the missionary

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