CARA Awards for Excellence in Teaching Medieval Studies:
This year, CARA is again very pleased to recognize two scholars for excellence in teaching: Sean Field and Frank Klaassen
At the University of Vermont, Sean Field has had a profound impact through his leadership of Medieval Studies, through his teaching, and through the mentorship of students who go on to become excellent medievalists. Prof. Field teaches in the Department of History and in addition to his prodigious research and scholarly output, he has become a vital node in New England’s medieval studies network and, especially, in teaching and advising students. During his time at UVM, Sean founded and now oversees the annual Vermont Medieval Summit; he has invited a long line of distinguished international scholars to campus; and has promoted the loan of medieval manuscripts for student training and colloquia. As his students and colleagues attest, Prof. Field is also a rigorous, compassionate, and innovative teacher, who offers a wide array of courses that exemplify a stunning breadth of methodologies ranging in topics from medieval heresy, to love, sex, and marriage, and the inquisition. Prof. Field also prepares his students beyond the content of his classes, teaching them, as one student raved, “how to write, how to research, how to defend one’s ideas, how to manage-time, and how to strive and thrive within academia and the broader world.” Sean combines intellectual seriousness with a subtle but beloved humor and a gift for spurring conversation. His dedicated mentorship of students also extends long after graduation and he has remained a vital resource even as students go off to other programs or begin new pursuits. As his colleagues note, part of what makes Sean such an out-standing teacher, is his “rare gift for listening. [Indeed, he] has a manner of listening to questions, inspiring reflection,” and fostering dialogue, that provokes “each student to make it a point of honor to give their best.” Surely this is what we a hope for when we teach. Congratulations, Sean, on inspiring so many students and maintaining the excellence of our field.
Frank Klaassen teaches in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, where he also serves as Director of the Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies Program. For the past seventeen years, Frank has been an exemplary and inspiring teacher and is acclaimed for his innovative and creative approaches, especially through his use of games and public exhibits, but also through his mentorship of graduate students and his support for meaningful undergraduate inquiry. He finds myriad ways to integrate his own research on late medieval magic into his teaching. In 2018, he developed The Renaissance Marriage Game, which simulated marriage negotiations in pre-modern Italy. And in 2019, he created a card came called Virtus about medieval masculinity (available at http://historygames.usask.ca/). As one undergraduate commented, “Dr. Klaassen’s approach doesn’t’ just teach about medieval history, but also prepares us for using the information learned in class for things other than research.” He teaches a senior undergraduate course on “Exhibiting History” that has resulted in student-curated exhibitions and asks students to delve deeply into research methodologies that could speak to the general public. In his upper-division and graduate courses, Prof. Klaassen often hands out weekly curated text-packets containing primary sources that he translated, transcribed, and collected for the students’ benefit. He integrates paleography training into his courses, giving students a profound sense of accomplishment and purpose through this practical engagement. Frank is one of those teachers whose laid-back style makes what he does seem magically effortless, yet the results are rigorous and effective. Enthusiastic about employing non-traditional methods, Prof. Klaassen has inspired and educated a generation of new students and aspiring medievalists and has cultivated an enduring love for medieval studies. As one student wrote: “Whether in person, at the head of a classroom, or through his writing, Frank Klaassen is a truly inspirational and dedicated teacher who balances an unyielding demand for excellence with his compassion and sense of play.” Congratulations, Frank; this is an honor well-deserved!
CARA-Kindrick Service Award:
This year the CARA Committee is delighted to honor two individuals with the CARA-Kindrick Service Award: Gene Lyman and Deborah Delyannis for their outstanding service to Medieval Studies.
As many of you know, Gene Lyman has served on the Medieval Academy’s Finance Committee for fifteen years and has been MAA Treasurer since 2010. In both capacities Gene has worked tirelessly, carefully, and thoughtfully to advance the mission of the Medieval Academy, doing so in a crucial but often behind the scenes role. He has led the way through many of the Academy’s transitions over the past decade and a half. He helped to keep our finances sounds and very much afloat in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and at other moments of economic strain that the Academy has had to weather. Although Gene is stepping down this year, we may yet need to call on his expertise to navigate through this new set of challenges we find ourselves in, in 2020. Gene has truly provided us with leadership in developing, organizing, promoting, and sponsoring Medieval Studies and we are delighted to recognize all that he has done with this award. Thank you, Gene!
The second award this year recognizes Deborah Deliyannis, who is Professor of History at Indiana University. Prof. Deliyannis is a distinguished scholar of early medieval Italy who has achieved a professional “hat trick” as the author to of a translation, critical edition, and a scholarly monograph. In addition, she has edited four books of essays and her research has made a profound impact on our field. Yet beyond her scholarly contributions, it is her tireless commitment to our community of scholars through her role as the driving force behind the online review organ, The Medieval Review (TMR). Since 1996, Deborah has been the primary editor and coordinator of this vital review publication. Medievalists of every discipline know TMR from the hundreds of reviews it publishes online every year made available to over six thousand subscribes around the globe, making TMR the most widely read, and thus one of the most influential, review journals for medieval studies. Indeed, TMR led the way in online publishing and digital archiving and has been at the forefront of that process ever since. As the executive editor, Prof. Deliyannis oversees the fundamental workings of the journal, from the reception of books, to their distribution to reviewers, to the dissemination of reviews to subscribers. For the past twenty-five years she has managed editors, authors, reviewers, commentators with grace, circumspection, and vision. And she has performed all of this labor without pay or a reduction in her teaching load. She has truly served Medieval Studies in an outstanding capacity, connecting medievalists, enriching our scholarly exchange, and deepening our understanding of the medieval world. We thank you Prof. Deliyannis for your outstanding service.