MAA News – From the President

Dear Academy Members,

As we approach the Annual Meeting later this month, I would like to highlight two features of the 2023 meeting that merit replication in future MAA conferences. The first is its inclusion of medievalists reflecting the career diversity that is keeping our field vital as the academic landscape changes. The second is its mobilization of a wonderfully diverse regional community of medievalists to create this event.

The Annual Meeting program features an impressive array of medievalists working beyond the tenured or tenure-track positions in higher education that have long defined our “profession.” In the first set of concurrent sessions on Thursday February 23rd, for example, a roundtable on “Scholarly ‘Crowdsourcing’ the Chalice of Abbot Suger,” draws on the expertise of an object conservator (Dylan Smith), a curator of sculpture and decorative arts (Emily Pegues), and a visual arts digital humanist (Matthew J. Westerby) from the National Gallery of Art as well as from a professional object photographer (Genevra Kornbluth). Independent scholars—such as art historian Julie A. Harris, retired diplomat Marie Richards, and cultural historian Tova Leigh-Choate—are contributing to sessions as are a high school Latin teacher, Laura Robertson, and journal editors Leland Grigoli and Colin Whiting. Museum professionals from the MET Cloisters, Dumbarton Oaks, Walters Art Museum, the Smithsonian, and the Baltimore Museum of Art are participating in sessions too. These medievalists who have built careers beyond the shrinking faculties of our beleaguered institutions of higher education will be sharing their scholarship with us and their experiences in re-imagining professional life for medievalists in the twenty-first century.

This year’s Annual Meeting also models how to build community and strengthen scholarly cooperation in the local/regional eco-systems of medievalists that will be increasingly important for medieval studies. Its Program Committee and Organizing Committee include members from fifteen institutions in the greater Washington DC area, among them The Public Medievalist, the Library of Congress, the Center for the Advanced Study of the Visual Arts, as well as academic institutions ranging from Northern Virginia Community College, the United States Naval Academy, and Mount St. Mary’s University to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Georgetown, and Johns Hopkins. Independent scholars and librarians contributed alongside faculty members to create this annual conference of the Medieval Academy of America. As we know, both the financial and environmental costs of national and international conferences are increasingly unsustainable. But this doesn’t mean we have to give up sharing our scholarship and socializing with colleagues. It does mean that getting to know our local and regional medievalists is a great investment in scholarly support and intellectual life. I am grateful to Annual Meeting co-organizers Jennifer R. Davis and Laura K. Morreale for their visionary and inclusive leadership.

Finally, in this last presidential letter of my term, I thank all of YOU, the members of the Medieval Academy of America. It has been an honor to serve you and learn from you.

With gratitude and warmest regards,

Maureen C. Miller, President of the Medieval Academy of America

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MAA News – Annual Meeting Registration

Although early-bird discounted registration for the Annual Meeting has ended, online registration is available until February 15. In-person registration will be available for an additional $25 on top of the $50 late-registration fee. No refunds will be issued after February 15. Click here for more information and to register. We look forward to seeing you there!

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MAA News – 2023 CARA Prizes

We are very pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 CARA Prizes:

The 2023 CARA Teaching Prize has been awarded to Alexandra Bolintineanu (University of Toronto) and to Elina Gertsman (Case Western Reserve University).

The 2023 CARA/Kindrick Prize for Service to Medieval Studies has been awarded to digital imaging specialist Roger Easton (Rochester Institute of Technology). Click here to learn more about his work imaging the Archimedes Palimpsest and other historic documents.

A special Special Commendation for Curricular Innovation has been awarded this year to David Shyovitz (Northwestern University) and Ahuva Liberles (Yale University) in recognition of their work in developing an immersive medieval Jewish history curriculum for middle and high school students.

Please join us during the upcoming Annual Meeting as we honor these awardees at the Business Meeting at noon on Friday, 24 February.

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MAA News – 2023 Inclusivity and Diversity Research Grant

The 2023 MAA inclusivity and Diversity Research Grant has been awarded to Lawrence Chamunorwa (Princeton University) to support his project, “Medievalizing Africa: Great Zimbabwe and the Poetics of Race and Nature.” In his words:

As a burgeoning scholar of medieval studies, I am broadly interested in the overlaps of literature, physical landscape, architecture, human, and nonhuman living things insofar as they relate to concepts of nature and environmental crisis. To this end, my research project seeks to center Great Zimbabwe (c. AD 1100-1420), a premier medieval Iron Age site in sub-Saharan Africa located in the Masvingo area of Zimbabwe. I intend to explore the site as a fertile locus for attending to ethical questions of not only environmental crises but those that border around race and racism– akin to Mabel O. Wilson’s (2019) study of how racialized labor factored into Thomas Jefferson’s architectural ambitions for the Virginia State Capitol. In tandem, I seek to explore these questions drawing from, on the one hand: how the notion of the “medieval” informs how white settlers, writers, and ethnographers to dehistoricize, that is, “naturalize” the African landscape and indigenous Karanga people thus undermining them as architects of the Great Zimbabwe monument. On the other hand, I unmute the literary archive of early indigenous Zimbabweans as well as modern black Zimbabwean literature to track the figuration of Great Zimbabwe and how it challenges the racializing notions of the origins and the ecological demise of the medieval city.

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MAA News – 2023 Inclusivity & Diversity Travel Grant

The 2023 Inclusivity & Diversity Travel Grant has been awarded to Martina Franzini (Johns Hopkins University) to support travel to the Annual Meeting to present her paper, “The Adverse Consequences of Interreligious Relationships in Boccaccio’s Decameron.”

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MAA News – Upcoming Deadlines

The Medieval Academy of America invites applications for the following grants. Please note that applicants must be members in good standing as of September 15 in order to be eligible for Medieval Academy awards.

Belle Da Costa Greene Award
The Belle Da Costa Greene Award of $2,000 will be granted annually to a medievalist of color for research and travel. The award may be used to visit archives, attend conferences, or to facilitate writing and research. The award will be granted on the basis of the quality of the proposed project, the applicant’s budgetary needs (as expressed by a submitted budget and in the project narrative), and the estimation of the ways in which the award will facilitate the applicant’s research and contribute to the field. Special consideration will be given to graduate students, emerging junior scholars, adjunct, and unaffiliated scholars. Click here for more information. Click here to make a donation in support of the Greene Award. (Deadline 15 February 2023)

Olivia Remie Constable Award
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. (Deadline 15 February 2023)

MAA Dissertation Grants:
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. (Deadline 15 February 2023)

Schallek Awards
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. (Deadline 15 February 2023)

MAA/GSC Grant for Innovation in Community-Building and Professionalization
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. (Deadline 15 February 2023)

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 – AHA “Long Overdue” Initiative

The American Historical Association has recently launched the Long Overdue project as part of the Racist Histories and the AHA initiative. Long Overdue aims to publish obituaries for historians of color whose passing the AHA did not mark. You can read a full description of the project on the AHA website.

Long Overdue obituaries will honor those who fit these criteria:

  • Must have been a person of color
  • Must have been a working historian
  • Must have died after 1895
  • Did not receive an AHR or Perspectives obituary

The first Long Overdue essay was published in the January issue of Perspectives on History in January, honoring W. E. B. Du Bois. This and future essays can be read on the Perspectives website.

How MAA members can help:

Nominate: We welcome suggestions for historians who fit these criteria. (You can search our database to see if a historian was already included.)

Write: We are looking for writers to work with us on these short essays, which should be approximately 700 words and should be a historian’s appreciation of a fellow historian, including their influence on colleagues, institutions, their field, and the discipline.

Questions? Contact AHA managing editor Laura Ansley at lansley@historians.org.

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MAA News – Good News From Our Members

The National Endowment for the Humanities has recently awarded a research grant to Sarah Davis-Secord (University of New Mexico) to support her project, “Encounter and Identity: Christians and Muslims in Early Medieval Italy.”

Congratulations! If you have good news to share, please forward it to Executive Director Lisa Fagin Davis.

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Call for Papers – Early European Puppetry Studies Conference

Early European Puppetry Studies Conference
October 12-15 at Yale University

From moving statues to artificial animals to marionette performances, puppetry seems to have appeared in every sector of medieval and early modern European society. Jointed religious figures illustrated the liturgy, while dragon effigies processed through cities on feast days, and popular and courtly audiences enjoyed puppet shows of legendary and historical events. Despite the ubiquity of medieval and early modern puppets in Europe, scholarly consideration of these performing objects is often limited to case studies. Consideration of “puppetry” as a particular form with its own norms and commonalities is also uncommon, due in part to the marginal position of puppetry in Western culture. However, considering the variety and complexity of medieval and early modern European puppetry provides an opportunity to reassess the role of figural objects and performance in Western culture. As objects used in performance, puppets enrich expanding scholarship on the inter- and multimedial dimensions of medieval and early modern theater, liturgy, and entertainment. As imitative objects, puppets inform discussions about representation in medieval and early modern Europe. And as objects unsettling boundaries between animate and inanimate, puppets nuance conversations about object agency, object-oriented ontology, and the so-called “material turn” happening across the humanities.

This conference aims to bring together scholars from art history, history, European literary and language studies, theater, and other fields to formally establish early European puppetry studies as a cross-disciplinary field and scholarly community. To that end, sessions will provide an opportunity for collecting and sharing resources as well as sites for setting the terms and questions that structure early European puppetry studies. We intend to build on the conference’s presentations to produce the first edited volume in early European puppetry studies in the following year.

Considering a wide range of objects and practices under the rubric of puppetry, the conference is interested in what defines a puppet. How might movement, interaction, animation, liveliness, or spectatorship, matter? How do the contexts of puppet performance (professional, amateur, civic, courtly) or its sites (church, stage, fairground, street) affect its possibilities? How did puppetry operate as a site of cross-cultural encounter that allowed swift exchanges across the continent? In what ways does the materiality of a puppet shape its modes of embodiment as it plays characters ranging from human and animal to divine? How does actual puppetry practice complicate or resist prevailing cultural metaphors of puppetry in relation to power and aesthetics?

We invite work on all manner of performing objects that can usefully be examined or theorized in terms of puppetry. We welcome proposals from scholars already working explicitly on puppetry as well as those newly imagining their work in relation to puppetry. In particular, we are interested in papers that resist dominant cultural discourses that limit puppetry to “popular” or “folkloric” spaces, seeking instead to locate fruitful avenues for using puppetry as a framework to analyze art, literature, culture, and performance traditions in medieval and early modern Europe. In other words, we hope to expand the field of inquiry from puppetry as metaphor to puppetry as praxis.

To propose a paper, please submit a 300-word abstract to Michelle Oing and Nicole Sheriko at earlyeuropeanpuppetrystudies@gmail.com by May 1, 2023.

Further details can be found at earlyeuropeanpuppetrystudies.com.

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Short-Term Fellowships for Research in the Vatican Film Library

Short-Term Fellowships for Research in the Vatican Film Library

The Vatican Film Library at Saint Louis University invites applications to short-term fellowship programs available for research in its collections. The library holds over 40,000 medieval and Renaissance manuscripts reproduced in microfilm and digital formats from the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana and many other libraries, offering rich resources for study in history, literature, religion, philosophy, canon and civil law, classics, science, medicine and many other subjects. Languages and cultural traditions represented include Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic and Western European vernaculars, encompassing Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the early modern period, and spanning Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East. An extensive reference collection of more than 8,000 volumes on paleography, codicology, illumination, text editing and transmission, library history, manuscript catalogues, and other areas supports research in pre-modern manuscripts and the texts they contain.

The library also holds more than 12,000 Jesuit historical manuscripts reproduced in microfilm relating to Jesuit activities from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries in the Western Hemisphere, drawn from the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, the Collegium Romanum, the national archives of Spain, and archives in South, Central, and North America, as well as the Philippines.

Fellowships are available to graduate students and established scholars regardless of nationality. The Vatican Film Library Mellon Fellowship provides a stipend of $2,250 per month for periods of research between two and eight weeks. Saint Louis University’s Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies and Center for Religious and Legal History also offer fellowships for research in the collections. For further information on application details and submission deadlines, see our fellowship guidelines.

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