Margot Fassler, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame, was awarded the 2012 Otto Gründler Book Prize for her book The Virgin of Chartres: Making History Through Liturgy and the Arts.
The prize was announced on Friday at the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University. Her book examines the history of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres, France, drawing on local histories, letters, obituaries, chants, liturgical sources, and reports of miracles to explore the cult of the Virgin of Chartres and its development in the 11th and 12th centuries. The book explores how the past was made in the central Middle Ages and argues for an understanding of the liturgical framework of time.
“It was especially meaningful to win this prestigious award in 2012,” Fassler says, “because I am the third Notre Dame faculty member in a row to win, joining my colleagues John Van Engen and Thomas Noble— all three of us fellows of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute.”
The annual Gründler prize recognizes an author whose work in any area of medieval studies is judged to be an outstanding contribution to the field. Thomas Noble won in 2011 for his book Images, Iconoclasm, and the Carolingians, while John Van Engen won in 2010 for Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life: The Devotio Moderna and the World of the Later Middle Ages.
Fassler is now working on on a new research project focusing on the medieval figure Hildegard of Bingen. The first, called Hildegard’s Scivias: Art, Music, and Drama in a Liturgical Commentary: Book and Digital Model, is supported by an ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship—one of only eight given out each year.
“My project concerns a set of interlocking illuminations provided for a late-12th century copy of Hildegard’s theological treatise Scivias, written in the 1140s,” Fassler says. “I will be working with Christian Jara, a talented and experienced digital artist, to create a digitized model of the cosmos as Hildegard envisioned it, adding music and dramatic dimensions to the model, all of which are texts and musical compositions by Hildegard as well.”
The new project, Fassler says, will take advantage of Notre Dame’s “splendid” Digital Visualization Theater (DVT), a 50-foot dome that allows viewers to fully immerse themselves within and fly through high-resolution and high-fidelity images. “We hope to have this 12th century universe ready for display in the DVT when the Medieval Academy of America meets at Notre Dame in spring 2015,” she says.
Peter Holland, McMeel Family Chair in Shakespeare Studies in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre and the associate dean for the arts in the College of Arts and Letters, says the use of new technologies in projects such as Fassler’s is transforming the work of humanities scholars.
“We have wonderful people doing brilliant work in the digital humanities here in the College—cutting-edge, innovative projects that take the way we can understand something in wholly new directions,” Holland says.
And the possibilities are endless, notes Susan Ohmer, director of DigitalND, a new initiative designed to streamline and strengthen digital work at Notre Dame. “Research such as Margot’s exemplifies the contributions that digital humanities can make to scholarship by opening up new methods of analysis and new bodies of research material for scholars to consider.”
In addition to the 2012 Gründler prize, Fassler’s The Virgin of Chartres received the biennial ACE/Mercers’ International Book Award in late 2011 for “an outstanding contribution to the dialogue between religious faith and the visual arts.”
Source: University of Notre Dame