Archive for the ‘International Book Award’ Category

2016 La corónica International Book Prize

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Winner of the 2016 La corónica International Book Award

Laura Ackerman Smoller

Laura Ackerman Smoller, Professor of History, University of Rochester, studies the areas of intersection between magic, science, and religion in medieval and Renaissance Europe, centering around two major themes:  astrology and apocalyptic prophecy, and saints and miracles. Her first book, History, Prophecy, and the Stars: The Christian Astrology of Pierre d’Ailly, 1350-1420 (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1994), explores a French cardinal’s use of astrology to investigate the time of the world’s End. She argues that d’Ailly, worried about intractable papal Schism and hoping that a church council could bring the crisis to an end, turned to astrology as a way to silence the numerous forces that saw the Great Schism as a preamble to Antichrist’s reign and thus, by implication, incBook Coverapable of resolution by human efforts.

In her second monograph, The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby: The Cult of Vincent Ferrer in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Ithaca:  Cornell UP, 2014), she examines the canonization and cult of the Valencian friar Vincent Ferrer, a fiery apocalyptic preacher of the Schism years who died in 1419 and was canonized in 1455. Ranging from the saint’s tomb in Brittany to cult centers in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, and Latin America, the book traces the long and sometimes contentious process of establishing a stable image of a new saint.  Starting with the rich material of the canonization process, Smoller mines stories about the holy friar as a means of exploring the religious lives of medieval and early modern Christians.  In a nuanced reading of canonization inquests, hagiography, liturgical sources, art, and devotional materials, people’s tales of the holy turn out reveal as much about their narrators—and their assertions of political, social, and spiritual status—as they do about Vincent Ferrer.  A central focus of the book is a bizarre tale, in which a mother kills, chops up, and cooks her own baby, only to have the child restored to life by the saint’s intercession.  This miracle becomes a key symbol of the official portrayal of the saint promoted by the papal court and the Dominican order through the Life of Vincent composed by Pietro Ranzano, in which Vincent appears as healer of the Great Schism (1378-1414) that had rent the Catholic church for nearly forty years.  But analysis of artistic portrayals and other Lives of the saint composed in a variety of contexts from the time of Vincent’s 1455 canonization through the eve of the Enlightenment shows artists and authors utilizing this potent religious symbol for their own purposes, ends sometimes at odds with the official image of the saint promoted by Rome.  Even though Ranzano’s official line eventually came to dominate hagiography, his was only one voice in a long, raucous discussion ranging over many centuries.  The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby restores the voices of that conversation in all its complexity.

More recently, Smoller has returned to the interrelationships between astrology and prophecy in a new book project tentatively titled “Astrology and the Sibyls,” an investigation of ways of knowing the future ranging from around 1100 to around 1600.


Laura Ackerman receives the La corónica International Book Award from Jonathan Burgoyne.













2015 La corónica International Book Prize

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

Winner of the 2015 La corónica International Book Award

Ryan Szpiech

Book DisplayRyan Szpiech, Associate Professor of Spanish, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, studies the cultures and literatures of medieval Iberia, focusing especially on cultural interaction, exchange, and conflict. His interests converge around the concept of translation (of languages, alphabets, styles, beliefs, identities, and ideas) as a tool for defining the relations between Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

Conversion and Narrative: Reading and Religious Authority in Medieval Polemic (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013) draws on a wide body of sources from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim polemics to investigate the place of narrative in the representation of conversion. Making a firm distinction between stories told about conversion and the experience of religious change, Szpiech’s book is not a history of conversion itself but a comparative study of how and why it was presented in narrative form within the context of religious disputation. After considering the late antique paradigms on which medieval Christian conversion narratives were based, Szpiech juxtaposes Christian stories with contemporary accounts of conversion to Islam and Judaism. The monograph emphasizes that polemical conflict between Abrahamic religions in the medieval Mediterranean centered on competing visions of history and salvation. By seeing conversion not as an individual experience but as a public narrative, Conversion and Narrative provides a new, interdisciplinary perspective on medieval writing about religious disputes.

Szpiech receives award

Jonathan Burgoyne, Editor of La corónica, presents the 2015 La corónica International Book Prize to Professor Ryan Szpiech at the 50th International Congress of Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan


2014 La corónica International Book Award

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Winner of the 2014 La corónica International Book Award

Nicola Clarke

2014 La corónica Book Award

Recipient of the 2014 La corónica Book Award

Dr Nicola Clarke has been Lecturer in the History of the Islamic World at Newcastle University in the UK since 2012. She studied History at the University of St Andrews, before moving to the University of Oxford to undertake graduate work in Arabic and Islamic History, completing her doctorate in 2009. Her research interests lie in the social and political history of al-Andalus, with a particular focus on historiography, family life, and gender. The Muslim Conquest of Iberia: Arabic Narratives (Routledge, 2012) is her first book.

Drawing on Arabic texts – historical, geographical and biographical – composed and transmitted in al-Andalus, North Africa and the Islamic east between the ninth and fourteenth centuries, The Muslim Conquest of Iberia: Arabic Narratives analyses narratives of the eighth-century Muslim conquest of Iberia. Medieval Islamic society set great store by the transmission of history: to edify, argue legal points, explain present conditions, offer political and religious legitimacy, and entertain. The Muslim Conquest of Iberia compares the way individual episodes, characters, and themes are treated in different texts, and how this treatment relates to intellectual debates, literary trends, and socio-political conditions at the time of writing, in order to demonstrate how competing priorities shaped myriad variations on a single story and how the scholars and patrons of a corner of the Islamic world distant from Baghdad viewed their own history.