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Dr Esther-Miriam Wagner

Executive Director

01223 761976


Esther-Miriam Wagner joined the Woolf Institute 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 Executive Director, she is involved in strategic and operational plans for research at the Woolf Institute, and in the development and coordination of projects, working closely with our Research Fellows. She also teaches the MPhil in Middle Eastern Studies: Muslim-Jewish Relations. Miriam organises a series of interdisciplinary panels and seminars, and is currently leading on the Launch programme of events in the new Woolf Institute building.


Books and edited books

2018 Studies in Semitic Linguistics and Manuscripts: A Liber Discipulorum in Honour of Professor Geoffrey Khan (with Nadia Vidro, Ronny Vollandt and Judith Olszowy-Schlanger [eds.]). Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

2017 Merchants of Innovation. The Languages of Traders (with Ben Outhwaite and Bettina Beinhoff [eds.]), Berlin: de Gruyter-Mouton.

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

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

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

In preparation

2018 Wisdom and Greatness in One Place: the 15th-c. Alexandrian Trader Moses Ben Judah and his Circle (with Dotan Arad, in preparation). Leiden: Brill.

2019 Arabic letters in the Prize Paper Collections (with Mohamed Ahmed, in preparation).

2019 Handbook and Reader of Ottoman Arabic.

Articles (peer reviewed)

2018 'Birds of a Feather: Arabic Scribal Conventions in Christian and Jewish Arabic'. In Nadia Vidro, Ronny Vollandt, Esther-Miriam Wagner and Judith Olszowy Schlanger (eds.), Studies in Semitic Linguistics and Manuscripts: A Liber Discipulorum in Honour of Professor Geoffrey Khan, 376–391. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

2018 '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, 91–110. Louvain: Peeters.

2018 'These two lines … ': Hebrew and Judaeo-Arabic Letter Writing in the Classical Genizah Period (with Ben Outhwaite). In Jennifer Cromwell and Eitan Grossman (eds.), Scribal Repertoires in Egypt from the New Kingdom to the Early Islamic Period, 314–332. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2018 'Code-switching in Judeo-Arabic Documents from the Cairo Geniza' (with Magdalen Connolly). Multilingua 37/1: 1–23.

2017 'From Tuscany to Egypt: 18th-c. Arabic Letters in the Prize Paper Collections' (with Mohamed Ahmed). Journal of Semitic Studies 62/2. 389–412.

2017 'A Matter of Script?'. In Yousef Meri (ed.), Muslim-Jewish Relations in Past and Present: A Kaleidoscopic View, 115–136. Leiden: Brill.

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, 68–86. 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, 3–16. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton.

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 'The Cairo Genizah'. In Egypt – Faith After the Pharaos, Exhibition Catalogue, British Museum, 164–169. 

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 '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.

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.


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

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.     

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 mai 2004), 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

2015 Fragment of the month January 2015, The Language of Women

2014 Fragment of the month May 2014, Go to the House of the English: 19th-c. Genizah Merchants

2013 Fragment of the month January 2013, The Preacher Who Speaks Like a Parrot: Two Versions of a Letter by R. Joshua ha-Nagid

2012 Fragment of the month March 2012, Goitein and Girlish Prose

2011 Fragment of the month May 2011 (T-S 10J7.4), Only Death Remains for Him

2010 Fragment of the month December 2010, Geographical Texts in the Collection

2009 Fragment of the month October 2009, Vis, liber zun, ikh hob dir vil brif geshribn: Yiddish Letters in the Genizah

2008 Fragment of the month April 2008 (T-S AS 157.50), A Twitch Divination in the Hand of Halfon b. Manasseh

2007 Fragment of the month October 2007 (T-S AS 152.86), A Newly-Discovered Fragment of a Letter Written by Maimonides

2007 Fragment of the month July 2007 (Mosseri Ia.29), Halfon's Wife


2018 Woolf Institute blog (with Emrah Efe Khayyat): People of the Book - People of Books

2016 Woolf Institute blog: A Summer of Learning

2015 Woolf Institute blog: History in Fragments

2015 Woolf Institute blog: Hay Festival

2015 Woolf Institute blog: Conferences 

2014 Woolf Institute blog: Language and Identity 

Radio Programmes

2013 Radio programme BBC3, The Essay: Stories from the Cairo Genizah

Organised conferences, lecture series and high-profile panel discussions

2017 Ottoman Arabic, Rutgers University, 30 May 2017 (with Emrah Efe Khayyat) 

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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