Lisa Reilly Wins 2014 Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship

Lisa Reilly, Associate Professor of Medieval Art and Architecture at the University of Virginia since 1999, has been awarded the 2014 Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship to assist her in the task of finishing her book entitled The Invention of Norman Culture. This work introduces a new interpretive paradigm for eleventh and twelfth-century Norman art and architecture. Traditionally, scholars have divided the discussion of the Norman art and architecture by its geography into Normandy, England, and Sicily. They have tended to study iconic works in piecemeal fashion, looking, for example, only at their antique, Islamic, or Scandinavian origins. Reilly’s inclusive approach examines such objects both individually and in the larger context of a connected Norman world, allowing us to assess richer meanings that are revealed by their cumulative effects on their different audiences.

Normandy, England, and Sicily each produced powerful visual cultures that drew on a variety of traditions. Durham Cathedral, for example, has a massive Norman elevation carried by monumental piers incised with native Anglo-Saxon patterns. The more intimate Cappella Palatina in Palermo uses antique columns to support walls decorated with Byzantine mosaics and a muqarnas ceiling. Reilly also looks at such treasures as the Bayeux Embroidery, the Cloak of Roger II, and Notre Dame (Jumièges) to show concretely how the Normans developed a broad range of visual signals that accompanied texts and rituals to legitimize their power in all three areas under their control. Because they obtained their new territories mainly through force, Normans were strongly motivated to establish themselves as rightful and divinely sanctioned rulers of very diverse peoples. Through such freshly conceptualized and directed analysis, this book offers an innovative approach that enhances the emerging field of intercultural medieval studies. 

The Bonnie Wheeler Fellowships are designed to provide financial assistance to women medievalists who are close to completing a significant work of research that will fulfill a professional promotion requirement. The 2009 MLA Report, “Standing Still: The Associate Professor Survey,” indicates that women are much more likely than men to “stand still” in the course of their academic career and to be “caught in the middle” of the promotion ladder. The Bonnie Wheeler Fellowships aim at placing many more women scholars at the top scholarly tier.

A special feature of the Bonnie Wheeler Fellowships is the designation of a mentor, who is responsible for reading the work-in-progress of the fellow and for offering feedback, constructive criticism, and encouragement. Distinguished architectural historian Professor Peter Fergusson (Wellesley College Feldberg Professor of Art) will serve as mentor to Professor Reilly; Professor Fergusson is the author of Architecture of Solitude: Cistercian Abbeys in Twelfth-Century England; Rievaulx Abbey: Community, Memory, Architecture; and Canterbury Cathedral Priory in the Age of Becket, in addition to many articles.

Be a Donor to the Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship

The Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship is a nationally focused private fund created by fellow medievalists and admirers of Dr. Wheeler and administered by the non-profit The Dallas Foundation. As men and women are still not represented in equal numbers in the upper ranks of academia, more women scholars are needed in the top tier of scholars. This Fellowship supports women scholars from around the nation as they complete major research projects that will satisfy professional promotion requirements—and that will help them break through the “glass ceiling.” Your gift will enable future scholars to benefit from the enormous generosity set in motion throughout Dr. Wheeler’s distinguished career.

Sarah McNamer Wins 2013 Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship

Sarah McNamer, Associate Professor of English and Medieval Studies (Georgetown University) is the recipient of the 2013 Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship.

The Bonnie Wheeler Fellowships are designed to help women medievalists who are close to completing a significant work of research that will fulfill a professional promotion requirement. The 2009 MLA Report, “Standing Still: The Associate Professor Survey,” indicates that women are much more likely than men to “stand still” in the course of their academic career and to be “caught in the middle” of the promotion ladder. The Bonnie Wheeler Fellowships aim at placing many more women scholars at the top scholarly tier.
 
Professor McNamer’s project is a critical edition and translation of the short Italian version of the pseudo-Bonaventuran Meditazioni della vita di Cristo (Meditations on the Life of Christ, or MVC). Circulating throughout Europe in various Latin and vernacular versions, the Meditations was the most influential devotional text in the later Middle Ages, with over two hundred manuscripts surviving.
 
Professor McNamer has discovered a neglected Italian version of this text (Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Canonici Ital. 174) which has never been edited or translated. This 31-chapter version of the MVC is more radical in its implicit incarnational theology, more woman-centered, and more lively and dramatic than the versions previously known. In addition, the text is likely to have been composed by a nun, and not by a Franciscan friar as has long been supposed. If the text was indeed composed in its original form by a woman, its historical significance is even greater, as it would then be among the earliest surviving prose texts composed in the vernacular by women in Italy.
 
Professor McNamer’s discovery of the Canonici version is, as one scholar has put it, potentially “paradigm-shifting”; it is thus important to publish a reliable critical edition of this text, with a substantial introduction and facing-page English translation, as soon as possible. The Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship will help make this necessity a reality. Congratulations to Professor McNamer!
 
A special feature of the Bonnie Wheeler Fellowships is the designation of a mentor, who is responsible for reading the work-in-progress of the fellow and for offering feedback, constructive criticism, and encouragement. Professor E. Ann Matter (Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania), will serve as mentor to Professor McNamer; Professor Matter is the author of The Voice of My Beloved: The Song of Songs in Western Medieval Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990) and editor or co-editor of several important essay collections.

Good News!

First, beginning with the third annual Fellowship award for 2013, the stipend amount has been increased from $7,000 to $10,000. This has been made possible by continued donor support and wise investing by The Dallas Foundation.

Equally of interest to prospective applicants: the current Wheeler Fellow, Prof. Lois Huneycutt (see more about her below), was able to use her award to leverage further financial support from her home institution. We encourage all applicants to consider this strategy.
 
Finally, the initial success of the Fellowship and the strength and number of applicants has led prior donors Don and Norma Stone to make a most generous new pledge of $10,000. More pledges like theirs will enable us in future to offer more than one Fellowship per year. See the “Donate” page for further information.

Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship 2012 Winner

Lois L. Huneycutt, Associate Professor of History (University of Missouri, Columbia), is the winner of the 2012 Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship.

The Bonnie Wheeler Fellowships are designed to help women medievalists who are close to completing a significant work of research that will fulfill a professional promotion requirement. The 2009 MLA Report, “Standing Still: The Associate Professor Survey,” indicates that women are much more likely than men to “stand still” in the course of their academic career and to be “caught in the middle” of the promotion ladder. The Bonnie Wheeler Fellowships aim at placing many more women scholars at the top  scholarly tier.
 
Professor Huneycutt earned her Ph.D. in 1992 at the University of California-Santa Barbara. The author of Matilda of Scotland: A Study in Medieval Queenship (2003), she was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 2002. Her current book project, “Becoming Christian: Women, Conversion and Resistance in the Early Medieval West,” examines the period between the fifth through thirteenth centuries in northern Europe. Building upon Richard Fletcher’s The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity (1997), it treats the process of conversion as a negotiation between old and new, focusing especially on “women’s roles in that negotiation, from the highborn women who became Christian queens to the humble wives who decided which rituals would be practiced within a household.”
 
A special feature of the Bonnie Wheeler Fellowships is the designation of a mentor, who is responsible for reading the work-in-progress of the fellow and for offering feedback, constructive criticism, and encouragement. Professor Robin Fleming (Boston College), author of Britain after Rome: The Fall and Rise, 400-1070 (2010), will serve as mentor to Professor Huneycutt.
 
For further description of present and past awards, see “Past Winners”.
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