At the annual Spring Party hosted by the Center for Medieval Studies, prizes were announced for the best essays written by graduate students in the past year. The judges of this year’s competition were visiting fellows David Wrisley, PhD of the American University in Beirut and Helen Birkett, PhD of the University of Exeter. They awarded the O’Callahan prize to Tobias Hrynick–his paper was detailed in an earlier post on this blog when it won the Loomie Prize from the History Department– and they awarded the First Year Essay Prize to Ruth Whaley. Ruth completed her MA in History at Fordham in August 2014, concentrating in Medieval History. The award winning essay “Story-Telling at Sea: Changes in the Crusade Chronicle”, compared two crusade chronicles written by crusaders who traveled by sea. These sea-borne narratives are, compared with what Whaley calls “terra-narratives”, little studied, and have notably evaded the attention of the recent literary-critical and narratologically-inflected studies of crusade chronicles. Whaley’s paper also introduced a novel methodology for reading and comparing the two texts- one based on the unique challenges and perspectives associated with the experiences of travelling by sea. This experiential approach highlights the unfamiliarity of most medieval Europeans with the sea and the extreme and transformative effect of sea travel among those unaccustomed to it.
Whaley currently lives in New York where she enjoys being a member of NYC Museum Educators Roundtable (NYCMER) and meeting lots of current educators and museum professionals. Since graduating in August 2o14 she has attended numerous events and conferences hosted by various NYC institutions as she pursues museum education and informal learning in cultural institutions more broadly. Congratulations Ruth!