Kevin Blankinship

Kevin Blankinship

Assistant Professor, Asian & Near Eastern Languages

3058 JFSB



Office Hours
M 10:00-11:00AM, or by email appointment
3058 JFSB

Welcome! I am a Middle East medievalist, and I joined the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages in 2018, as an assistant professor of Arabic. My teaching includes Arabic language and literature, Islamic civilization, and the Qur’an. In terms of research, I am obsessed with poetry, especially that of Islamic Iberia and North Africa. My PhD thesis (University of Chicago, 2018) is called “Thresholds of Doubt,” and it is about the ethics of authorship as seen through the paratexts — titles, prefaces, glosses, and other ancillary writings — of the blind poet and alleged heretic al-Ma’arri (d. AD 1058).

Forthcoming publications include a co-authored study of al-Ma’arri’s authorship beside that of Byzantine polymath John Tzetzes, a book chapter on al-Ma’arri’s veganism, and an article on medieval Arabic criminal slang. My work has benefited from generous grants by the Fulbright-Hays Program, the University of Southern Denmark, and the University of Utah. In addition to scholarship and teaching, I am deeply committed to public humanities engagement. I review books for general-interest audiences, write commentary about Middle Eastern culture and society, and work as a freelance Arabic translator. You can read my work at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jadaliyya, and Bridges Magazine (BYU).

I grew up in northern Virginia and served an LDS mission in Recife, Brazil. I hold a BA from BYU in comparative literature, an MA in the same discipline from UNC Chapel Hill, and a PhD in classical Arabic literature from the University of Chicago. I am married to one of my first Arabic teachers at BYU, and together with her and our two sons, I enjoy hiking, swimming, traveling, and reading out loud.


BA, Brigham Young University, Comparative Literature

MA, UNC Chapel Hill, Comparative Literature

PhD, U. of Chicago, Arabic Language and Literature


Arabic language and literature
Islamic culture and thought
Qur’anic Studies


Classical Arabic poetry and poetics
Islamic Spain and North Africa
Textual cultures (authorship, commentaries, translation)
Literary pragmatics