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Photo of Dr Esther-Miriam Wagner

Dr Esther-Miriam Wagner

Director of Research, Woolf Institute


01223 478 175

Esther-Miriam Wagner joins the Woolf from her role as Research associate at the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Unit, Cambridge University Library after completing her doctorate on Judaeo-Arabic letters at the University of Cambridge. Her main research interests include Judaeo-Arabic, historical linguistics of Arabic and Yiddish, sociolinguistics, scribal practise, and Jewish-Muslim relations in Egypt and Muslim Spain as reflected in the Genizah sources.  

As part of her work at the Woolf Institute, she teaches the MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Specialisation: Muslim-Jewish Relations) together with Deputy Director Shana Cohen and organises a series of interdisciplinary panels and seminars.


Books and edited books

2017Wisdom and greatness in one place: the 15th-c. Alexandrian trader Moses Ben Judah and his circle (with Dotan Arad, in preparation). Leiden: Brill.

2017Merchants of innovation. The languages of traders (with Ben Outhwaite and Bettina Beinhoff [eds.], publication date 15th April 2017).

2013Scribes as Agents of Language Change (with Ben Outhwaite and Bettina Beinhoff [eds.]), Berlin: de Gruyter-Mouton.

2010Linguistic Variety of  Judaeo-Arabic in Letters from the Cairo Genizah. Leiden: Brill.

2001Walter W. Mueller, Suedarabien im Altertum. Kommentierte Bibliographie der Jahre 1973–1996 (with Norbert Nebes [eds.]). EFAH 2. Rahden: VML. 


2017 'The socio-linguistics of Judaeo-Arabic mercantile writing'. In Esther-Miriam Wagner, Bettina Beinhoff and Ben Outhwaite (eds.), Merchants of innovation. The languages of traders. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton.

2017 'Merchants of innovation: the languages of traders' (with Bettina Beinhoff). In Esther-Miriam Wagner, Bettina Beinhoff and Ben Outhwaite (eds.), Merchants of innovation. The languages of traders. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton.

2016 'Scribal practice in the Jewish community of medieval Egypt'. In Myriam Wissa (ed.), Scribal practices and the social construction of knowledge in Antiquity, Late Antiquity and Medieval Islam. Louvain: Peeters.

2016 'Codeswitching in Yiddish and Judaeo-Arabic'. In Sergio Neri, Roland Schuhmann & Susanne Zeilfelder (eds.), Dat ih dir in nu in huldi gibu, 495-504. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

2015 'Die Kairoer Genizah (The Cairo Genizah)'. In Ein Gott (One God), Exhibition Catalogue, Bode Museum Berlin, 166–171.

2014 'Subordination in 15th- and 16th- century Judeo-Arabic'. Journal for Jewish Languages 2, 143–164.

2013 'The shift in positioning of the finite verb in older Yiddish' (with Henrike Kuehnert). In Marion Aptroot and Björn Hansen (eds.), Yiddish Language Structures. Empirical Approaches to Language Typology, 125–142. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton. 

2013 'Hebrew loan words in Germanic Languages (German and Dutch)'. In Encyclopedia of the Hebrew Language and Linguistics, 57-60.

2013 'Scribes and Language Change' (with Ben Outhwaite and Bettina Beinhoff).  In: Esther-Miriam Wagner, Ben Outhwaite and Bettina Beinhoff (eds.), Scribes as Agents of Language Change, 3-18. Berlin: de Gruyter-Mouton.

2013 'Challenges of Multiglossia: the emergence of substandard Judaeo-Arabic registers'. In Esther-Miriam Wagner, Ben Outhwaite and Bettina Beinhoff (eds.), Scribes as Agents of Language Change, 259-273. Berlin: de Gruyter-Mouton. 

2010 'The weakening of the bourgeoisie: Social changes mirrored in the language of the Genizah letters'. In Ben Outhwaite and Siam Bhayro (eds.), Cambridge Genizah Studies I: proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Genizah Studies, Westminster College, Cambridge 2007, 343–355. Leiden: Brill.

2009 'The Genizah and Arabic and Islam'. In Stefan Reif (ed.), Charles Taylor and the Genizah Collection, 60–66. Cambridge.

2009 'Arabic script material in the Cairo Geniza'. In Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World 574–576. Leiden: Brill.

2004 'Konnektive in der diachronen Entwicklung des Jiddischen (The diachronic development of connectives in Yiddish)', (with Henrike Kuehnert). In Indogermanistik, Germanistik, Linguistik - Proceedings of the 1st congress for Indoeuropean studies, German studies and Linguistics Jena 2002, 261–299. Hamburg: Kovac. 

2002 'Zahl und Gezaehltes im Sabaeischen (Number and counted in Sabaic)'. In Norbert Nebes (ed.), Neue Beitraege zur Semitistik (JBVO 5), 259–279. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. 

1997 'Christlich-Arabisch (Christian Arabic)' (with N. Nebes and J. Assfalg). In OrientalischeBuchkunst in Gotha. Ausstellung zum 350 jaehrigen Jubilaeum der Forschungs- und Landesbibliothek Gotha. Gotha.


2015 Review of Na'ama Pat El, Studies in the Historical Syntax of Aramaic. In Journal of Semitic Studies 60/2 (in press).

2015 Review of Lidia Bettini and Paola La Pisa, Au-Delà de l'Arabe Standard moyen et Arabe mixte dans les sources médiévales, modernes et contemporaines. In Journal of Semitic Studies 60/2 (in press).     

2011 Review of J. Lentin and J. Grand'Henry, Moyen Arabe et variétés mixtes de l'arabe àtravers l'histoire. Actes du Premier Colloque International (Louvain-la-Neuve, 10–14 mai2004), Louvain-la-Neuve 2008. In Bibliotheca Orientalis LXVIII N° 5–6 (September–December 2011). 622–625.

2011 Review of Benjamin Hary, Translating Religion: Linguistic Analysis of Judaeo-Arabic Texts from Egypt, Leiden 2009. In Journal of Jewish Studies LXII N° 2 (Autumn 2011), 391–394.

2011 Review of Werner Diem, Wurzelrepetition und Wunschsatz. Untersuchungen zurStilgeschichte des arabischen Dokuments des 7. bis 20. Jahrhunderts, Wiesbaden 2005. In Bibliotheca Orientalis 68/1–2 (2011). 199–201.

2002 Review of Alexander Sima: Tiere, Pflanzen, Steine und Metalle (with Barbara Jaendl), Wiesbaden 2000. In Der Islam 80 (2003). 373–375.

Electronic Resources

2016 Fragment of the month June 2016: Moses ben Judah - a 15th-century bibliophile and gourmand, http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/departments/taylor-schechter-genizah-research-unit/fragment-month/fragment-month-june-0

2015 Fragment of the month January 2015, The language of women,http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/january-2015/index.html

2014 Fragment of the month May 2014: Go to the house of the English: 19th-c. Genizah merchants,http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/may-2014/index.html

2013 Fragment of the month January 2013, The preacher who speaks like a parrot: two versions of a letter by R. Joshua ha-Nagid, http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/january-2013/index.html

2012 Fragment of the month March 2012, Goitein and girlish prose, http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/march-2012/

2011 Fragment of the month May 2011 (T-S 10J7.4), Only death remains for him, http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/may-2011/

2010 Fragment of the month December 2010, Geographical texts in the Collection, http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/december-2010/

2009 Fragment of the month October 2009, Vis, liber zun, ikh hob dir vil brif geshribn: Yiddish letters in the Genizah, http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/october-2009/

2008 Fragment of the month April 2008 (T-S AS 157.50), A twitch divination in the hand of Halfon b. Manasseh, http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/april-2008/

2007 Fragment of the month October 2007 (T-S AS 152.86), A newly-discovered fragment of a letter written by Maimonides, http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/october-2007/

2007 Fragment of the month July 2007 (Mosseri Ia.29), Halfon's wife, http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/Taylor-Schechter/fotm/july-2007/


2016 Woolf Institute blog: A summer of learning https://woolfinstitute.blog/2016/08/18/a-summer-of-learning/

2015 Woolf Institute blog: History in fragments https://woolfinstitute.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/history-in-fragments/

2015Woolf Institute blog:Hay Festival https://woolfinstitute.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/hay-festival-2015/

2015Woolf Institute blog: Conferences https://woolfinstitute.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/conferences/

2014 Woolf Institute blog: Language and identity https://woolfinstitute.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/language-and-identity/

Radio Programmes

2013 Radio programme BBC 3, The Essay: Stories from the Cairo Genizah http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01slm5m

Organised conferences, lecture series and high-profile panel discussions

2016 Interdisciplinary perspectives on code-switching, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, 3-4 October 2016 (with Organisation Committee)

2016 Arabic in the Ottoman Empire, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, 21-22 April 2016

2015 Southern Englishes Workshop. Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, 23-24 March 2015 (with Laura Wright)

2014 Merchants of Innovation. The Languages of Traders. Conference at St John's College, University of Cambridge, 7-8 April 2014

2011 Scribes as Agents of Language Change. Conference at St John's College, Cambridge, 4-6 April 2011



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