Last Spring, Maryanne Kowaleski, Joseph Fitzpatrick S.J. Distinguished Professor of History and Medieval Studies was selected to hold a prestigious residential fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advances Studies at Harvard University to pursue her project entitled Living by the Sea: An Ethnography of Maritime Communities in Medieval England. The Radcliffe Institute fellowship competition is international in scope, and fellowships are awarded to only 3% of applicants. As Professor Kowaleski begins her fellowship year, let’s find out more about her project and the Radcliffe Institute where she will be based.
According to the fellowship announcement, entitled “Big Thinkers, Big Projects”. The Institute is
dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. The Fellowship Program annually supports the work of 50 leading artists and scholars. Academic Ventures fosters collaborative research projects and sponsors lectures and conferences that engage scholars with the public. The Schlesinger Library documents the lives of American women of the past and present for the future, furthering the Institute’s commitment to women, gender, and society.
Radcliffe Institute Dean Lizabeth Cohen said of the 2015 fellows that
“It is an honor to provide these innovative thinkers with time, space, and intellectual stimulation to do their best work in ways that often defy expectations and disciplinary boundaries,” said Radcliffe Institute Dean Lizabeth Cohen RI ’02. “As Radcliffe fellows, they are sure to develop unusual collaborations, take unexpected risks, and generate new ideas.”
Professor Kowaleski’s project is entitled Living by the Sea: An Ethnography of Maritime Communities in Medieval England. What follows is from the abstract for her project.
Past human interaction with the sea has become an important issue for many disciplines, spurred on by debates on our responsibility for rising sea levels, the depletion of fish stocks, and global warming. The historical perspective’s contributions to these and other issues, such as rights of access to marine resources, are valued, but rarely focus on the period before the seventeenth century. The emphasis has also been more on people as ecological actors and less on the interaction between humans and marine environments. My project contributes to these current debates by analyzing the impact of marine environments on the types of work, economic strategies, language, value systems, and family structures of those residing near the sea in medieval England. The study attributes a powerful role to marine ecosystems in promoting a distinctive sub-culture among the inhabitants of coastal villages and small port towns, as well as quayside neighborhoods in larger seaports.
Congratulations to Professor Kowaleski on this major award, and enjoy your year at Harvard!