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CARMEN: The Worldwide Medieval Network is delighted to announce the results of the inaugural CARMEN Project Prize competition, 2018.

The competition received 23 entries, from scholars at varying career stages and from across the world. The judges were impressed by the very high quality of project ideas, and excited to see the wide range of important and impactful projects in Medieval Studies currently in development. 

All applicants have now been contacted with their result, and with brief feedback on their entry. Many thanks to all those who took the time to enter.

CARMEN Project Prize Winner
We are delighted to announce that the winner of the CARMEN Project Prize, 2018, is James Smith (Trinity College, Dublin), for the project ‘Pre-modern Manuscripts and Early Books in Conflict Zones’. This project, framed around capacity-building in the form of a COST Action application, will establish a set of themes that raise awareness of medieval and early modern manuscripts and early books under threat from conflict, and their need for protection. It interrogates the cultural phenomena surrounding the creation and destruction of written heritage, as well as the received scientific and cultural beliefs of conservators and digitisers. The project will provide mechanisms for events and meetings addressing three prospective challenges to be explored within the COST Action, equipping scholars with a diverse set of skills, and merging scientific and practical approaches. The project is collaborative, involving an international steering group from the Universities of Leiden and Bergen, the UK National Archives, and the University of Applied Science, Potsdam.

The judges were extremely impressed by the importance and timeliness of the proposed project, and the clear strategic framework already in place (including the international steering team and objectives for securing future funding). The research questions are clear and compelling, making a persuasive case that a focus on written heritage in conflict zones is long overdue. As winner of the bursary of €350, James will now join CARMEN for its Annual Meeting in Tampere, Finland, in August 2018, for a prize presentation ceremony, and to lead a workshop on his project. Many congratulations to James and his project team.

Special Commendation Awards
Due to the exceptional quality of entries in the 2018 competition, the judges also made the decision to make two further ‘Special Commendation’ awards for outstanding project ideas. The recipients will each receive a €100 bursary to support attendance at the CARMEN Annual Meeting and workshopping of ideas.

Elizabeth L’Estrange (University of Birmingham) receives a Special Commendation for her project, ‘Redefining Women and the Book in the Middle Ages (c. 800-1600)’. This project reassesses the relationship between women and book culture in the European middle ages (broadly defined) by moving scholarship beyond the traditional focus, first put forward in the 1980s, on devotional manuscripts owned by aristocratic Christian women from France, England and Burgundy between the mid-fourteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth. By analysing a greater variety of women (e.g. non-elite, non-Christian) across a broader chronological (c. 800- 1600) and geographical range (e.g. Scandinavia, Iberia, Eastern Europe), it will offer a more nuanced understanding of women’s interaction with written culture as readers, patrons, writers and translators, c. 800-1600. The judges were impressed with the distinctive, innovative methodology proposed, as well as the project’s timeliness and clear cross-disciplinary reach and international significance.

Paul B. Sturtevant (The Smithsonian Institution / The Public Medievalist) receives a Special Commendation for his proposal, ‘The Public Medievalcast, Season 1: Borders’. This podcast is a venture into a new, medium by the team at The Public Medievalist, a popular web-zine that seeks to present the latest research in medieval studies in a way that is free, accessible, and enjoyable for a broad popular audience. The topic for our first season is extremely timely: ‘Borders’. Ideas of borders—between nations, religions, genders, and more—are continually in popular discourses today. But most discuss them uncritically. This podcast will present medieval histories of some of these borders, as a way of exploring with more nuance the invisible barriers erected around our lives. The judges were struck by the ambition and innovation of this project proposal, building on the great success and impact of the Public Medievalist presence online. The proposed theme for Season 1, ‘Borders’, is particularly timely and important.

Many congratulations to Elizabeth, Paul, and their collaborators.