The Medieval Studies Institute is delighted to announce this year’s winners of the Andrea S. McRobbie Fellowship, an award presented by the McRobbie family in memory of Andrea McRobbie's interest in medieval studies. This fellowship is designated to honor an advanced graduate student engaged in scholarship in medieval history, specifically some aspect of its social history or some theme in medieval social history related to its art, philosophy or literature.
This year, the award committee decided to make two awards to two exceptional students and active participants in the Institute who exemplify the rigorous, interdisciplinary scholarship on the social worlds of the Middle Ages that this award honors: Kayla Lunt (Art History) and Nicolo Sassi (Religious Studies). Congratulations to both!
Kayla Lunt (Department of Art History)
Kayla’s dissertation, The Performance of the Breviary of Saint-Sépulcre: Devotion and Difficulty in a Thirteenth-century Liturgical Manuscript, reevaluates the power of central and marginal illuminations in medieval liturgical books. She treats an illuminated breviary as a site of reader-response, bringing together a study of its practical use and use-history, illustrative program, and the dirt and wear that evidence reader engagement to demonstrate that even profane marginal illuminations contributed to the overall religious experience of the book by triggering and extending the interpretive process. She argues that the Breviary of Saint-Sépulcre and books like it were more than mere supports for ritual performance—they were private, devotional, contemplative spaces opened within the corporate affair of the Divine Office.
Nicolò Sassi (Department of Religious Studies)
Nicolò’s dissertation, Forbidden Theology. The Forgotten History of Origenism in Medieval Syria, focuses on a Medieval Syriac text, the Book of Secrets, to explore why humans resort to forbidden forms of theological discourse in religious practice. Through a paleographical, literary, and historical analysis of the Book of Secrets and the manuscripts that record it, his study illuminates how this text was read, annotated, commented on, scratched, and re-written all through the Middle Ages by spiritual seekers who used it in their religious practice. Ultimately this study contends that the history of this text is of fundamental human significance, as it yields vital insight into why, in any period, culture, and religion, humans may make use of condemned, heretical, and culturally forbidden forms of theological discourse.