James Richard Jewett becomes first Professor of Arabic

Orientalism and the study of Islam 1911

James Richard Jewett Named First Professor of Arabic

James Richard Jewett began pursuing Semitic studies at Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1884, and then continued in Germany and Syria. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Strasbourg where he wrote a dissertation on “Arabic Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases” and then taught Semitic languages at Brown University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Chicago. In 1887, Professor Jewett returned to Harvard as Instructor in Semitic Languages and taught courses in Hebrew Bible, Arabic, and Ethiopic. In 1911, he was appointed Harvard’s first Professor of Arabic. Professor Jewett’s Arabic courses included the study of Wright’s Grammar, Socin’s Grammar, selections from the Qur’an, hadith, and classical works on geography and history. He also taught Semitic 15 on the “Political and Social History of Mohammedanism till the End of the Crusades,” later the “Political and Social History of the Mohammedans to the Conquest of Egypt by Selim I” and a research course on “Arabic Sources for the History of the Crusades.”

James Richard Jewett
James Richard Jewett (1862-1943)