Dr Alex MetcalfeSenior Lecturer
- Regional focus: the wider Mediterranean basin and the Middle East.
- Period: Research focuses on the Middle Ages (c. 500-c. 1500). Teaching is not limited to these periods.
- Principal research area: Sicily, al-Andalus and the Maghrib. South Italy under the Byzantines, Muslims; the Normans, Hohenstaufen and Angevin dynasties.
- Primary source materials: mainly charters and narrative histories (Arabic, Greek and Latin).
- Political History: medieval chanceries; law, administration and governance; historiography; the formation and disintegration of pre-modern states in Europe, the Mediterranean and Middle East.
- Religious History: politico-religious ideologies; sacral authority and rulership;concepts of holy and just war; interfaith relations; religious assimilation and conversion.
- Social and Socio-Economic History: socio-religious change; concepts of acculturation and pluriculturalism; transculturality; ethnicity and identity (trans)formation; iiminal and frontier communities; occupations and social hierarchies; kinship and 'tribalism'; social and fiscal status of minorities.
- Historical Linguistics: bilingualism and multilingualism; medieval translation movements; onomastics (anthroponyms and toponyms); Sicilian Arabic; Maltese; medieval Italo-Greek and early Italo-Romance dialects.
- See also my personal pages on Academia.edu
Funded research projects (current and recent)
- Arabic Documents of Norman Sicily: The Monreale 'Registers of Men'. Click to view or download a project poster (opens as 2Mb .pdf). This project was recently supported by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship 2011-12 (Principal Investigator). It forms part of a wider project in collaboration with Prof. J. Johns and the Khalili Research Centre (KRC), University of Oxford that aims to publish all the Arabic documents from Norman Italy.
Forthcoming outputs: The Arabic Documents of Norman Sicily: The Monreale 'Registers of Men' ed. Alex Metcalfe [Islamic History and Civilization Series: Studies and Texts] (Leiden: Brill, 2017). New, critical editions of the Arabic and Greek texts with historical introduction, translations, commentaries and indices. These will be accompanied by an open access digital database.
- Sardegna fra mare e monti: un paesaggio storico-culturale (funded by the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Italy, 2013-16). Co-investigator in collaboration with Dr F. Sulas and Dr G. Serreli (ISEM-CNR, Cagliari; Prof. C. French (McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge), and the Soprintendenza per i beni archeologici delle Provincie di Sassari e Nuoro, Sardegna.
Forthcoming outputs on Sardinia include a co-authored chapter in an edited volume of research articles: 'Medieval Sardinia and the Muslims' (co-authored with Fabio Pinna) in The Making of Medieval Sardinia eds. Alex Metcalfe and Giovanni Serreli [The Medieval Mediterranean Series] (Leiden: Brill, 2017).
- The Norman Edge: Identity and state formation on the frontiers of Europe. Co-investigator in collaboration with Prof. A. Jotischky (Co-I) and Prof. K. Stringer (PI), Department of History, Lancaster University. Funded by an AHRC grant from 2008-11. For the project website click here.
Forthcoming outputs include an article and an edited volume: 'Identity and societal formation in Islamic and early Norman Sicily' in The Norman Edge: Peoples and Power in Medieval Europe, eds. Andrew Jotischky, Alex Metcalfe and Keith Stringer (Farnham: Ashgate, 2016).
Publications (authored and edited)
- 'Language and the written record: loss, survival and revival in early Norman Sicily' in Multilingual and Multigraphic Manuscripts and Documents of East and West, eds. Giuseppe Mandalà and Inmaculada Pérez Martín (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2015), pp. 3–31. ISBN: 978-1-4632-0283-5.
- 'The real Król Roger'. Programme notes for the Royal Opera House production of Szymanowski's Król Roger (May, 2015), pp. 24–31. Click here for ROH site and production details.
- I musulmani dell’Italia medievale (Palermo: Officina di Studi medievali, forthcoming). An expanded and updated Italian translation of the monograph The Muslims of Medieval Italy (Edinburgh, 2009) with a preface by Ferdinando Maurici.
- 'Transkultureller und sozio-religiöser Wandel im muslimischen und frühen normannischen Sizilien' in Siziliens Geschichte: Insel zwischen den Welten, eds. Wolfgang Gruber and Stephan Köhler (Vienna: Mandalbaum, 2013), pp. 68-98. ISBN: 978385476-422-9. Click for details.
- Themed issue of Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean, 25/1 (2013), co-edited with Mariam Rosser-Owen. ISSN 0950-3110.
- 'Forgotten Connections: Material Culture and Exchange in the Central and Western Mediterranean, 7th-13th Centuries' (with Mariam Rosser-Owen) in Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean, 25/1 (2013), pp. 1-8. Click to read. ISSN 0950-3110.
- 'Orientation in three spheres: medieval Mediterranean boundary clauses in Latin, Greek and Arabic’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 22, (2012), 37-55. Click to access.
- The Book in Fact and Fiction in Pre-Modern Arabic Literature, themed volume of the Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, 12 (2012), co-edited with Antonella Ghersetti. ISSN: 0806-198X. 263 pages. Click to read online.
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 11 (2011) editor. ISSN: 0806-198X. Click to read online.
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 10 (2010) editor. ISSN: 0806-198X. Click to read online.
- The Muslims of Medieval Italy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009). 352 pages. ISBN 978-0-7486-2007-4. Paperback edition: 978-0-7486-2008-1. Click to read.
- 'The Lands of Twelfth-Century Corleone', 'The Christians of Twelfth-Century Corleone' and 'Extracts from the Travels of Ibn Jubayr' in Medieval Italy: Texts in Translation, eds. K. Jansen, J. Drell and F. Andrews (Richmond: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), pp. 65-70 and 234-40. ISBN: 978-0812241648. Click for purchase details.
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 9 (2009) editor. ISSN: 0806-198X. Click to read online.
- 'Sicilian Arabic' in The Encyclopaedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, eds K. Versteegh, M. Eid, A. Elgibali, M. Woidich and A. Zaborski, 4 vols (Leiden: Brill, 2009), iv, pp. 215-19. ISBN: 978-90-04-14476-7. Click to read.
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 8 (2008) edited with Joseph N. Bell and Lutz Edzard. ISSN: 0806-198X. Click to read online.
- 'Trusting the text as far as we can throw the scribe: further notes on reading a bilingual jaridat al-hudud from the royal diwan of Norman Sicily' in From Al-Andalus to Khurasan: Documents from the Medieval Muslim World, eds. P. M. Sijpesteijn, L. Sundelin, S. Torallas Tovar, A. Zomeño, [Islamic History and Civilization Series: Studies and Texts, vol. 66], (Leiden: Brill, 2007), pp. 78-98. ISBN: 90-04-15567-8. Click to read.
- Under-Age Rule in the Medieval Islamic World (2007) editor. Themed volume of al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean with editor's introduction. Click to access.
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 7 (2007) edited with Joseph N. Bell. ISSN: 0806-198X. Click to read.
- Reviews of Sheila S. Blair's Islamic Inscriptions (Edinburgh, 1998) in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 32 (2005), 138-9; click to read via JSTOR. Review of Jeremy Johns's Arabic Administration in Norman Sicily: The Royal Diwan (Cambridge, 2002) in English Historical Review 119 (2004), 118-120. Click here to read via EHR site.
- Muslims and Christians in Norman Sicily. Arabic Speakers and the End of Islam (London and New York: Routledge, 2003). 286 pages. ISBN 0-7007-1685-8. Read an extensive preview online. Also available in paperback - click for purchase details.
- The Society of Norman Italy, edited with Graham A. Loud (Leiden: Brill, 2002). 381 pages. ISBN 9004125418. Click to read.
- 'The Muslims of Sicily under Christian Rule' in The Society of Norman Italy eds. Graham A. Loud and Alex Metcalfe (Leiden: Brill, 2002), pp. 289-317. ISBN 9004125418. Click to read.
- 'De Saracenico in Latinum Transferri: Causes and Effects of Translation in the Fiscal Administration of Norman Sicily', Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 13 (2001), 43-86. ISSN: 0950-3110 0950-311. Click to read.
- 'The Mystery at Chúrchuro: Conspiracy or Incompetence in Twelfth-Century Sicily?' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 62/2 (1999), 226-59 (with Jeremy Johns). ISSN: 0041-977X. Click to read.
Academic awards and fellowships
- Visiting Professor, (Short-term mobility research fellowship scheme) Istituto di Storia dell'Europa Mediterranea-Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (ISEM-CNR), Cagliari (December 2013).
- Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, University of Oxford (2010-12).
- Research Associate, The Oriental Institute, University of Oxford (2010-12).
- Research Associate, The Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford (2010-12).
- British Academy Mid-Career Fellow (2011-12).
- Visiting Professor, The University of Cyprus (March 2011).
- Fellow of The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (2007-10).
- Arts and Humanities Research Council Research, Leave Scheme Award Holder (2006–7).
- UK representative of the Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants (UEAI) (2006-present).
- Visiting Lecturer at Ca’ Fóscari, University of Venice (April-May 2005).
- Fellow of The Royal Historical Society (2005-present).
- British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2001-4).
- Arts and Humanities Research Board Postgraduate Award Holder (1997-2000).
- PhD (Department of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Leeds). Supervisors: Prof. Dionisius A. Agius (Leeds) and Prof. Jeremy Johns (Oriental Institute, Oxford)
- BA (Hons) in Arabic Studies (Dept of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Leeds).
- BA (Hons) and MA in Literæ Humaniores (Exeter College, Oxford).
Academic and university administration
Undergraduate Admissions Team (2012-13); Departmental Academic Officer (2008-10); Part II Examinations’ Officer (2008-10); Director of Overseas Exchange Programmes (2007-10); Undergraduate Teaching Committee Member (2004-10); Director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies Degree Scheme (2007-8); Student Careers Officer (2007-8); Faculty and Undergraduate Courses Committee (2005-6); History Society Liaison Officer (2005-6).
I was also the external examiner for the Dept of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh between 2007 and 2012, and have examined candidates for research degrees at the Central European University (CEU), Budapest; L'Università degli Studi di Napoli 'L'Orientale', and Martin-Luther-Univeristät (MLU), Halle-Wittenberg. For some years I've also been working for the International Baccalaureate Organisation setting the Route 1 exam papers for the Standard Level and Higher Level Diploma (Group 6 - Arts): History of Europe and the Muslim World.
- (H204) The Origins and Rise of Islam
- (H205) Byzantine and Islamic Sicily
- (H300) Dissertation
- (H312) The Normans in Italy
- I also contribute lecture-seminars at a Masters' level on Late Bronze Age Sardinia, and Early Writing Systems; Part I u/grad teaching ('From the Medieval to the Modern') and I've previously taught courses on The Crusades; Muslim Spain; the Medieval Islamic Underworld; Muslim Travellers and Geographers, Arabic Grammar, as well as the Early Modern and Modern Middle East.
- Current and recent PhD students include George Lincoln (Settlement patterns in Islamic and Norman Sicily); Emily Mead (The regency of Adelaide); Tom Hopkinson (The travels of Patrick Brydone), and Katherine Jacka on the sources of al-Idrisi (in collaboration with supervision from UNSW, Sydney). Potential Masters and doctoral students should contact me to discuss the feasibility of their research proposals before applying.
Recent research seminars/conferences papers include:
- ISEM-CNR (Istituto di Storia dell'Europa Mediterranea-Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche), Cagliari, 8 September 2015. Title: 'Memorie degli Arabi nel Mediterraneo'.
- Leeds IMC, 8 July 2015. Title: 'Fear and Loathing in Late Antiquity: early Muslim raids on Sardinia'.
- The Aghlabids and their neighbours, UNC Chapel Hill, London, 23 May 2014. Title: 'History and Historiography of Aghlabid Sicily and Ifriqiya.'
- Comune di Quartucciu, Sardinia, 19 December, 2013. Title: 'Ripartendo da Piscina Nuxedda: la Sardegna, gli arabi e l’origine dei regni giudicali.'
- Tavola Rotonda: ISEM-CNR, Cagliari, 11 December 2013. Title: 'Tra fonti e metodologie. Riflessioni multidisciplinari sulla Sardegna tra VIII–XI secolo.'
- Adelasia900 simposio, Palazzo dei normanni, Palermo, 18 April 2013. Title: 'Testimonianze archeologiche e documentarie su Focerò.'
- Manuscritos plurilingües y plurigráficos de oriente y occidente, CSIC, Madrid, 27 September 2012. Title: 'State of the art or art of the state? Reflections on the bilingual documents of Norman Sicily'.
- Islam and the West Seminar Series, Queen Mary, University of London, 13 March 2012. Title: 'How Islamic was Norman Sicily?'
- Norman Edge Seminar Series, Lancaster University, 17 December 2011. Title: ‘Naming and Identity in Norman Italy’
- International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 11 July 2011. Title: 'Assessing new evidence for the Focerò rebellion in Norman Sicily.'
- Royal Historical Society Symposium, Lancaster University, 17 June 2011. Title: 'Europe and Africa: Frontier formation in the twelfth century.'
- University of Cyprus, Nicosia, 22 March 2011. Title: ‘From Emirate to Kingdom: the Norman County of Sicily’
- Medieval History Seminar, All Souls College, Oxford University, 21 February 2011, Title: 'The Norman Conquest of Africa'.
- Muslim–Christian Encounters in the Mediterranean Seminar Series, Khalili Research Centre, Oxford University, 18 January 2011, Title: 'The Multilingual Charters of Medieval Sicily: A Lingua Franca in the Mediterranean?'
- 25th Union Européene des Arabisants et Islamisants Congress, L’Orientale, Naples, 10 September 2010. Title: 'Noun Reduplication in Sicilian Arabic and its historical implications.'
- Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge, 18 January 2010. Title: 'Government by Smoke and Mirrors? The Construction of Norman Rule over the Muslim and Greeks of Sicily’.
- Mediterranean Seminar, University of California, Los Angeles, 23 November 2009: Title: 'The Language(s) of Power: Muslims under Infidel Rule in the Middle Ages.'
- Hellenic Colloquium, Central European University, Budapest, 26 March 2009. Title: 'Language and Administration in Early Norman Sicily.'