Esther Liberman Cuenca (PhD History, 2019), now an assistant professor at the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV), has recently been awarded three fellowships. They include a UHV Junior Faculty Grant for summer 2021, a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society 2022-23, and a Junior Mellon Membership at the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies for 2022-23. She will spend her time in Princeton revising her Fordham doctoral dissertation into a monograph entitled “The Making of Urban Customary Law in Medieval Britain.” Dr Cuenca has also recently published “Led Zeppelin— ‘Immigrant Song’: Viking Medievalisms and the Afterlife of Classic Rock,” in One-Track Mind: Capitalism and the Art of the Pop Song (London: Routledge, 2022). In 2023, she has an essay forthcoming in Continuity and Change and is serving as guest editor of “Representations of the Medieval in Popular Culture: Remembering the Angevins,” a special collection for Open Library of Humanities.
Category Archives: Alumni Awards
Former undergraduate student Melanie Sheehan (class of 2017) has been offered the Harvard-Newcomen Post-Doctoral Fellowship for the 2022-2023 academic year. She is a current PhD candidate in the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Melanie is currently finishing her dissertation, titled “Opportunities Foregone: US Industrial Unions and the Politics of International Economic Policy, 1949-1983,” which demonstrates the critical but underexplored role of trade union leaders in shaping US international trade and investment policy. The project draws on research from business archives at Hagley Museum and Library and labor archives at the Walter P. Reuther Library, the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive, Penn State University, and the International Institute of Social History, as well as several presidential libraries.
Dr. Esther Liberman Cuenca, who earned her Ph.D. in medieval history at Fordham in 2019, has been awarded the 2021 Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize from the Medieval Academy of America, which recognizes a first article in the field of medieval studies of outstanding quality.
Dr. Esther Liberman Cuenca, who earned her Ph.D. in medieval history at Fordham in 2019, has been awarded the 2021 Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize from the Medieval Academy of America, which recognizes a first article in the field of medieval studies of outstanding quality. The prize, for her article, “Town clerks and the authorship of custumals in medieval England,” Urban History 46:2 (2019): 180-201, was established by the Medieval Academy of America in 1971 and consists of a certificate and a monetary award of $500. It will be presented at the Academy’s 2021 Annual Meeting, hosted online by Indiana University, Bloomington. She is one of two winners of the award this year. The prize committee submitted the following citation.
In her perceptive and finely-crafted essay Esther Liberman Cuenca examines the expertise and duties of clerks in medieval English towns, and particularly their roles in creating custumals, or collections of written customs. She highlights and traces two fundamental aspects of clerks’ authorship, their legal and administrative expertise, and their roles in transmitting urban laws to posterity. Urban historians of the Middle Ages are familiar with custumals, documents found in almost every medieval towns that regulated the lives of their citizens, from markets and commerce to administration, social mores and hygiene. While historians usually locate and frame analyses of the documents within the history of urban politics and “normalization”, they rarely study who actually drafted them. Cuenca’s innovative article engages the historiography of urban literacy, and of the anonymous professionals who supported literacy within an urban institutional framework. Her careful analysis of their oaths and administrative practices, which often adapted older materials, reveals that town clerks played critical roles in transmitting customary law to future generations of administrators. Clerks were usually left in the shadow of their superior, and the vital contribution of Cuenca’s work is to bring these individuals to light by focusing on the creation, organization, and preservation of urban custumals, and most of all on their authorship. Were these clerks scriptores, compilatores, or commentators? By showing that they fulfilled all of these roles, Cuenca reaffirms their existence in urban memory.