MAA News – From the Executive Director

At the recent American Council of Learned Societies Executive Officers’ meeting in Ft. Worth, I met with the directors of more than sixty of our sister societies, ranging from small volunteer organizations with a few hundred members that run on a shoestring to mega-organizations with dozens of paid staffers, tens of thousands of members, and multi-million-dollar budgets. The Academy falls somewhere in the middle, with six paid staff members, 3,500 members, and an annual budget of around $850,000. And while our goals may be somewhat different from those of, say, the American Society for Aesthetics, over the course of the three-day meeting we found that we have much in common. In particular, we are all determined to support our members in their work and in their humanity.

At the EO meeting, we spoke about these issues at length and discussed how we might advocate for our members more effectively. Members of the Medieval Academy are facing many of the same challenges as members of our sister societies. It is not only medievalists who have recently faced painful issues of harassment and racism on campus and online:
classicists and eighteenth-century scholars, among others, have struggled with similar issues in recent months. Fiscal challenges to the humanities at the federal level have also hit close to home.

Many of the ACLS affiliates are comprised primarily of academics, and so the stresses of the job market affect us all. You may have seen recent reports from the American Historical Association and the Modern Language Association comparing the number of PhDs granted in recent years with the number of tenure track and other academic jobs on offer. The news was discouraging, to say the least.

The Medieval Academy will be addressing these pressing issues with sessions at our upcoming Annual Meeting at Emory University (1-3 March): a stand-alone panel and discussion, “Building Inclusivity and Diversity: Challenges, Solutions, and Responses in Medieval Studies” (Thursday at 5 PM); and the Graduate Student Roundtable, “A Future Outside of Academia: Alternative Careers for Graduate Students in Medieval Studies” (Friday at 4 PM). We hope that you will join us in Atlanta to take part in these valuable conversations, both of which, we hope, will lead to ongoing discussions and development of policy that will help make the Medieval Academy a more welcoming place for medievalists of all backgrounds and all career paths.

It is hard enough for students to face an uncertain job market without also facing the possibility of seeing their student debt increase due to the recent House of Representatives tax proposal that would make graduate student tuition waivers taxable federal income. It was this concern, in particular, that prompted ACLS affiliates, with the leadership of the American Philosophical Association, to sign a joint statement condemning this provision. We will continue to work with our sister societies to advocate for our members through a formal network of Executive Officers.

We cannot do this work without your support, however. If you haven’t yet renewed for 2018, please do so as soon as possible. You will also be hearing from me this week by mail with an end-of-year fundraising appeal. Please give if you can. Your gift and your membership fee directly support our grantmaking and subvention initiatives. I thank you in advance for your support.

On behalf of the staff and governance of the Medieval Academy of America, I wish you a very happy holiday season. The Office will be closed from December 25 – January 1. We look forward to working with you in 2018.

– Lisa

Lisa Fagin Davis, Executive Director

p.s. Here’s an easy way to support the Medieval Academy of America when you shop at this holiday season: go to , select the Medieval Academy as your charity of choice, and shop as usual! Amazon will contribute .5% of your purchase amount to the Medieval Academy of America.

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MAA News – The Digital Middle Ages

In their introduction to the The Digital Middle Ages (Speculum 92S1), issue editors David J. Birnbaum, Sheila Bonde, and Mike Kestemont wrote: “Our aims in this supplement of Speculum are frankly immodest….[W]e hope, by bringing together a diversity of projects, to showcase for the Academy membership the wide range of exciting possibilities afforded by digital humanities….This supplement is the first issue of Speculum devoted to digital medieval projects, and it is offered in an online, open-access format that reinforces the openness to which the digital aspires and which it encourages.” The supplement–different, of course, from the electronic version of the October issue–is a stand-alone issue available to all but only in digital format, since it demonstrates, through resources available online, the wealth of methodologies increasingly available to medievalists. We hope you have had a chance to delve into it, and we offer a few images from its pages as inducements:

Stones: British Library, MS Add. 10294, fol. 44. Miniature (© British Library Board; GIS © Alison Stones).

McGillivray and Duffy: Detail of MS Cotton Nero A.x. fol. 90/94r (with and without infrared).

Wrisley: A heat map of place names found in Joinville’s Vie de saint Louis, created using the Geographic Information System software ArcGIS.

Bonde, Coir, and Maines: Notre-Dame d’Ourscamp, 3D reconstruction of stage 44 showing the beginning of roofing of the Gothic chevet (Bonde, Coir, and Maines).

Pentcheva and Abel: Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, balloon-pop response (above) and associated spectrogram (below), December 2010 (diagram by Jonathan S. Abel)

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MAA News – Join Us at the 93rd Annual Meeting in Atlanta

We are very pleased to announce that the program for the 93rd Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy of America is now online here. Mark your calendars for March 1-3 at Emory University, and stay tuned for the opening of registration and hotel reservations in early January.

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MAA News – Membership Renewal

If you haven’t already renewed your Medieval Academy membership, please do so by 31 December. You can renew online here or by printing and returning this form.

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MAA News – Don’t Forget to Vote

Voting in the annual MAA governance election ends at 11:59 PM on 2 January. This one of the most important means that members have to impact both the MAA and the future of medieval studies in North America.

The list of candidates with photos, vision statements, and brief biographies appears online here. The ballot link was sent to you by email when voting opened.

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MAA News – Upcoming Grant Deadlines

MAA Dissertation Grants (deadline 15 February):
The nine annual Medieval Academy Dissertation Grants support advanced graduate students who are writing Ph.D. dissertations on medieval topics. The $2,000 grants help defray research expenses. Click here for more information.

Schallek Awards (deadline 15 February):
The five annual Schallek awards support graduate students conducting doctoral research in any relevant discipline dealing with late-medieval Britain (ca. 1350-1500). The $2,000 awards help defray research expenses. Click here for more information.

MAA/GSC Grant for Innovation in Community-Building and Professionalization (deadline 15 February):
The MAA/GSC Grant(s) will be awarded to an individual or graduate student group from one or more universities. The purpose of this grant is to stimulate new and innovative efforts that support pre-professionalization, encourage communication and collaboration across diverse groups of graduate students, and build communities amongst graduate student medievalists. Click here for more information.

Olivia Remie Constable Award (deadline 15 February):
Four Olivia Remie Constable Awards of $1,500 each will be granted to emerging junior faculty, adjunct or unaffiliated scholars (broadly understood: post-doctoral, pre-tenure) for research and travel. Click here for more information.

Applicants for these and other MAA programs must be members in good standing of the Medieval Academy. Please contact the Executive Director for more information about these and other MAA programs

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MAA News – Good News from our Members

Thomas Barton’s book, Contested Treasure: Jews and Authority in the Crown of Aragon (Penn State, 2015), has won the Jordan Schnitzer Book Award for the best book on medieval or early modern history and culture published in 2015 or 2016. The Jordan Schnitzer Book Award was established in 2008 by the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation to honor scholars whose work embodies the best in the field: rigorous research, theoretical sophistication, innovative methodology, and excellent writing. It is administered by the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS), a learned and professional organization whose mission is to advance research and teaching in Jewish Studies at colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning, and foster greater understanding of Jewish Studies scholarship among the wider public. Last year, Barton’s book received the Best First Book Award from the Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies, which considered all first monographs in Iberian history (from ancient to modern) in English, Spanish, and Portuguese over a three-year period (2013-2015).

If you have good news to share, contact Executive Director Lisa Fagin Davis.

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Call for Papers – Administrative accountability in the later Middle Ages Records, procedures, and their societal impact

Administrative accountability in the later Middle Ages

Records, procedures, and their societal impact

Bucharest, 16-17 November 2018

The emergence of new types of financial records, the creation of institutional procedures, and the birth of a bureaucratic corps in a society in which accountability had been largely social and moral represent key developments in the history of the later Middle Ages. The colloquium will explore the multifaceted reality of administrative accountability in Western Europe, c. 1200-1450. Because the renewed interest in the subject makes methodological exchanges all the more timely, the colloquium will provide a venue for testing new approaches to the sources. Special attention will be given to underexplored archival documents, such as the castellany accounts (computi) of late-medieval Savoy, and to topics that have hitherto received less attention, such as the social impact of institutional consolidation. Comparisons with better-known texts, such as the English pipe rolls, are also encouraged.

The colloquium is organised in the frame of the European Research Council Starting Grant no. 638436, ‘Record-keeping, fiscal reform, and the rise of institutional accountability in late-medieval Savoy: a source-oriented approach’ (University of Bucharest)

Record-keeping, fiscal reform, and the rise of institutional accountability in late-medieval Savoy: a source-oriented approach

Proposals for 30-minute papers are invited on topics including:

 the institutional dialogue between the central and local administration

 the impact of administrative and fiscal reform on local communities

 accounting practices and the auditing of financial records

 the cultural underpinnings of medieval accountability

 prosopography: background and career of administrators, from auditing clerks to castellans

 methodological advances, from manuscript studies to sociological frameworks

 the transfer of administrative models across medieval Europe


The colloquium papers, which will collected in an edited volume published with an international academic press, should reflect original, unpublished research. The authors will be given the opportunity to revise their contributions for publication.

Papers can be presented in English or French; if delivered in French, it is the author’s responsibility to have the paper translated into English for publication.

For inquiries, contact Ionuț Epurescu-Pascovici ( or Roberto Biolzi (

Proposals of circa 300 words, outlining the source material, methodology, and anticipated findings, should be emailed to by 30 March 2018.

The organisers will provide three nights hotel accommodation and help defray travel expenses.

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Call for Papers – Angelical Conjunctions: Crossroads of Medicine and Religion, 1200-1800

Angelical Conjunctions: Crossroads of Medicine and Religion, 1200-1800

to be held at McGill University on April 13-15, 2019

“Angelical Conjunction” was the term coined by the seventeenth-century New England Puritan Cotton Mather to denote the mutual affinity of medicine and religion. Indeed, medical and spiritual practices have a long history of coexistence in many religious traditions. This connection took many forms, from the pious provision of health care (in person or through endowed charity), to the archetypal figure of the healing prophet. Yet despite decades of specialized research, a coherent and analytical history of the “angelical conjunction” itself remains elusive.   This conference therefore aims to explore the connection between medicine and religion across the time-span of the late medieval and early modern eras, and  from an intercultural perspective. Taking as our focus the Mediterranean, the Islamic World and Europe, and the various Christianities, Islams and Judaisms that flourished there, we aim to develop methodological and theoretical perspectives on the “angelical conjunction(s)” of these two spheres. How did the entanglement of religion and medicine shape epistemologies in both of these spheres? What are the conceptions of the body and its relationship to the soul that these entanglements assumed or envisioned? What were the limits to coexistence? How did the “conjunction” change over time?

We invite papers on a range of themes that include, but are not limited to:

–         The relationship between spiritual charisma and medical practice
–         The involvement of medical practitioners in theological debates
–         Medicine and “fringe” religious traditions (e.g. Hermetic, heretical, “occult”…)
–         Representations of the healer-prophet or healer-saint in art
–         Debates on body and soul informed by medical and theological knowledge
–         Spiritualization of physical illness
–         Devotion as therapy, and (the provision of) therapy as devotion

Accommodation and meals will be provided. We are seeking grant support to subsidize travel.

Please submit an abstract of 300 words and a CV to Dr. Aslıhan Gürbüzel at by January 10, 2018.

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Call for Papers – Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference

Call for Papers
Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Conference

23 – 26th August 2018

We are pleased to announce that the 24th biennial conference of SASMARS will be held at Mont Fleur in Stellenbosch, South Africa from Thursday the 23rd to Sunday the 26th of August 2018.

“Ancestry and Memory in Medieval and Early Modern Worlds”

Keynote Speaker:  Professor Alexandra Walsham, University of Cambridge

Medieval and early modern societies weathered various socio-cultural changes, including religious, economic, and political transformations, across a range of different geographies and in both urban and rural spaces.  We seek papers from any applicable discipline that explore ancestry and memory within a variety of geographic locales in the medieval and/or early modern eras. We shall welcome broad and imaginative interpretations of “ancestry” and “memory”.

Deadline:  Please send a conference proposal and a short biography to Retha Knoetze: by 18 February 2018.  Any inquiries can be directed to the same email address.

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