Department of Classics, joint with Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
Ph.D. Harvard 2016, A.B. Princeton 2010.
I research how and why ancient Greek texts were translated into Syriac and Arabic in late-eighth- through mid-tenth-century Baghdad. I am interested not only in early Arabic philosophy and science, but also in broader intellectual historical questions. What understanding did medieval Iraqi intellectuals have of the ancient Greek past and its achievements? How, in their view, had the ancient Greek legacy come to reside in Iraq?
My forthcoming book, Athens in Baghdad: The Abbasid Search for a Greek Past, is under contract with Harvard University Press and examines competing and evolving claims for ownership of and access to the ancient Greeks made by ninth-century Baghdadi Christians and Muslims. Where Muslim patrons of translation constructed a narrative that cast Christianity as responsible for the downfall of the Greeks, the Syriac-speaking Christian translators they sponsored were in a position to mediate their own version of the Greek past. The book draws on Graeco-Arabic translations themselves and on a diverse array of Syriac and Arabic historiographical, literary, and scientific texts.
Beyond this project, I have interests in a wide range of technical topics in Graeco-Arabic philosophy, science, and translation. These include translation technique in the Galen translations of the Ḥunayn circle, al-Kindī's philosophical and medical views, and al-Fārābī's use of sources.