Account Options Sign in. Top charts. New releases. Add to wishlist. You can search through the dictionary by using the root letter of the word and the app will display the corresponding page from the Hans Wehr dictionary. This app was developed to aid students of the Arabic language in their noble pursuit.
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The first attempt was rather flippant, the tone the product of my being fed up with being lectured to by people I generally agree with, both intellectually and politically, about striking from the canon of scholarship the work produced by people with vile political ideas and no discernable humanity.
First, the matter of necessity: The foremost modern bilingual dictionary of the Arabic language was compiled by Hans Wehr, an active, card-carrying member of the original Nazi party for the project of creating an official Arabic translation of Mein Kampf. The dictionary is so closely identified with its compiler that it is referred to not by any title but rather by his name. The man and the book are both Hans Wehr.
Scholarship does not get much more entangled with Nazism than that. As a modern dictionary it is not the final authority in matters medieval, but it is always the first. It is a perfect size — both comprehensive and compact — for cradling in your hand or your lap or setting down on the desk next to the text for an initial reading. It is erudite, humorous, and amazing. As dictionaries go, it nears perfection. I own three copies. Perhaps with E. In that case, the romanticism of the image of generations of Arabic students sitting with a compact, green work of Nazi propaganda cradled in our laps would be insufficient justification to continue the routine use of Wehr; though its continuing excellence surely would be.
If necessity might someday soon be obviated, there is, second, the matter of conviction. I am writing this as a Jew who listens to a lot of Wagner. As far as I am concerned, neither the political convictions of the composer nor the catastrophically fatal racism of its most famous fan is the fault of the music itself.
While there is room to analyze, criticize, debate the strain of folklore represented by Wotan, Sigfried, inter al. The music is not the enemy; and nor is the scholarship. My belief is this: If the scholarship or the music, or the photography can be reasonably separated from the political convictions of its creator, then it should be. If the extracurricular ideas of the creator do not diminish the work then they do not diminish the work; if they do diminish the work then the problem is not the politics of the creator but rather the problem of an inferior work.
Within the academy — reception outside of it is a separate issue — bad scholarship by racists should be a non-issue not only because of their racism but also, and principally, because of their bad scholarship. The one possibly analogous contemporary case is that of Rachel Fulton Brown.
Much of the discussion of her recent turn to the basest forms of online trolling refuses to name her, calling her by her initials or by nicknames, but I am not going to adopt that practice. It will make this post more searchable for her rabid fans, but let the trolls do their worst, I guess. Over the course of the last two years, Brown has written a series of blog posts that impose her own very contemporary and very wrong-headed ideas about race upon a medieval context ; she tries, rather gracelessly and through a truly disturbing devotion to Milo Yiannopoulos, to justify her racism through her medieval scholarship and her academic expertise.
My colleagues have very rightly refused to engage with her on these issues and, to the extent they can, have tried to avoid allowing the authority and gravitas of the academy to legitimize her racism. All of the scholarship she published going forward if she ever returns to scholarship as we recognize it from the more memoir-like writing she seems to be pursuing as her main vocation will necessarily be read with an eye toward whether it, too, reflects a Middle Ages infected with a modern racism.
But what about her previous scholarship? I do not for a moment believe that she became a champion of a racially-inflected western civilization very suddenly two years ago. I have to imagine that the same racist she has proven herself to be wrote her first book, the one published before her other, baser tendencies were known.
I consider myself lucky to be able to watch this on the sidelines rather than having to engage with it directly. I am neither a European historian nor a scholar of English literature, the two disciplines that tend to be the heart of Medieval Studies. Even as a medievalist, I do not consider Medieval Studies to be my main field. Those who do have largely commented that even though they did not know Brown to have been a racist, and even though they found her first book to be tremendously valuable, they will not use or cite it anymore.
When considering the contemporary academic landscape, particularly with respect to Islamophobia in the academy, I have tended to think that hatred would always manifest itself in the scholarship of a racist. I could understand refusing to purchase a work written by a racist scholar so as not to send any royalties her way; but to refuse to read it?
Perhaps it is a more fraught and complex question in the moment, when the racism is living and personal rather than historical and largely defeated. Is it possible that I am lucky to have to contend with a dictionary born of a political ideology that the world once rejected and trounced? For a number of people the line was drawn, inexplicably to me, at Garrison Keillor. He is a popular writer and performer rather than a scholar and his transgressions were sexual rather than racial in nature.
But the phenomenon is parallel. Many called for the scrubbing of everyone from Kevin Spacey to Charlie Rose from popular culture; the shift happened when Garrison Keillor was accused of sexual harassment and many of those same individuals hesitated about the damnation of his memory.
It is self-evident to me that I can do so while also utterly rejecting his ideology. And so I carry on, doing both of those things well and at the same time. Maybe we can talk about it at some point. Postscript: This is sort of a draft. Not a first one, but a second one.
So there may be more of this, similar but different, possibly here or possibly in some other venue, at some point in the future. This is separate from the kind of damnatio memoriae at stake in removing statues that honor and laud slaveholders, segregationists, and doctors who experimented on unconsenting human subjects simply because they could.
This is a question more parallel to whether doctors may ethically use procedures or knowledge developed by Sims in the antebellum United States or by Mengele in Nazi Germany than one of whether either of those men should be honored with a public statue. As the oh, by the way, Nazi-sympathizing poet once said: That is not it at all. So where are your charges coming from?
I want to add that I am in full agreement with your larger position: that striking people from the canon because they hold some abhorrent views is a very bad road to go down. The very fact that I agree wholeheartedly with your larger point while objecting to a portion of your argument is itself an illustration of why shunning and damning people is poor strategy. Specific objections are better than wholesale condemnations, because one can engage with specific points, consider them, marshall facts for and against, etc.
The charges of racism have been made and borne out extensively elsewhere, by a number of academics across a number of fields, and so I did not see the need to re-argue that point in a post that is really, fundamentally, not about Professor Brown.
Thanks for a thoughtful and well-considered post. I am not an Anglo-Saxonist, but I know enough to know that much of his earlier work is instrumental in the field.
Nevertheless, the position his scholarship had afforded him allowed him to be a gatekeeper as well, preventing other views , e.
So there, the personal and the political might be divorced from his own scholarship, but not from his position as a working academic, if that makes sense. As I said in the postscript, this is really a draft of an idea in progress. As for Woody Allen… yeah. I am a medieval Marian scholar, and so her early work factored into my dissertation.
I am sure this is so as the daughter of Holocaust Survivors. Please review her work carefully and separate this from contemptuous claims. Please reread the post. Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
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Good Resource: Search Hans-Wehr Dictionary & Lane’s Lexicon at the Same Time