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On “Letters from Baghdad”

What Gertrude Bell’s Letters Remind Us About the Founding of Iraq Elias Muhanna | NewYorker.com (Culture Desk) I first encountered the work of the British traveller, archeologist, and spy Gertrude Bell many years ago, while hunting in the archives for a Carmelite priest named Père Anastase-Marie de Saint-Élie, an obscure figure in the history of Arabic … Continue reading

On Reza Aslan’s “Believer”

Last month, I wrote an essay for NewYorker.com about Reza Aslan’s new CNN show, “Believer.” Here’s the first paragraph with a link to the rest of the piece. In other news, I’m on my way to Lebanon this evening to attend the School of Mamluk Studies’ annual conference, which is being held this year at the … Continue reading

The Geography of Small Places

Hello, everyone. This blog has been a little sleepy for the past year or so, as I’ve wrapped up the long-running book projects that have kept me so preoccupied. With those now off my desk, I thought I’d try turning the crank and seeing if everything still runs here the way it used to. Here’s … Continue reading

What is Islam? A Review

A significant new book by my late professor, Shahab Ahmed, was recently published by Princeton University Press.  The book is entitled What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic, and I have written a review and a profile of its remarkable author for The Nation. The first few paragraphs are below, followed by a link to the rest of the … Continue reading

Modern Robots that Speak Like Ancient Romans

Here’s a piece I’ve written for The New Yorker’s Culture Desk about a course I taught last semester at Brown and the interesting research project that emerged from it. First paragraphs below, followed by a jump. Come on back here to comment! Hacking the Humanities Last spring, I taught a literature seminar called “Before Wikipedia.” The subject was the history … Continue reading

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