- Thomas van Erpe at Harvard: Samuel Whiting's Use of Three Arabic Proverbs in Oratio Quam Comitijs Cantabrigiensibus Americanis Peroravit (1649)
- Early American Literature
- The University of North Carolina Press
- Volume 53, Number 3, 2018
- pp. 851-876
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Arabic was formally added to the Harvard curriculum in 1654, but the language had a robust presence in New England prior to midcentury. Arabic was deeply embedded in all aspects of English society in the seventeenth century, and first-generation immigrants brought their interest in and knowledge of Arabic to New England. Unlike England, where Arabic was used in the service of science, diplomacy, trade, and theology, the study of Arabic in New England remained within a theological framework from the seventeenth century until the first half of the twentieth century, when American economic interests in the Middle East freed the study of the language from its theological constraints.