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Natalie Zemon Davis Prize Announcements

November 2022

The 2021 Natalie Zemon Davis Prize for the best article in volume 44 has been awarded to James M. Clawson and Hugh F. Wilson for their essay "De Doctrina Christiana and Milton's Canonical Works: Revisiting the Authorship Question." Taking on an important piece of scholarly orthodoxy at the core of Milton studies, Clawson and Wilson argue for the removal of a key text from the Milton canon. Because the assumption that Milton wrote this text is so deeply imbricated in the  interpretation of his writings, its removal entails wide implications for the study and interpretation of his other works. The daring thesis is well supported, and the article is a model for how digital-humanities strategies like stylometry can be  combined with more traditional philology to challenge an accepted consensus.

October 2021

The 2020 Natalie Zemon Davis Prize for the best article in volume 43 has been awarded to Karoline P. Cook for her article, “Claiming Nobility in the Monarquía Hispánica: The Search for Status by Inca, Aztec and Nasrid Descendants at the Habsburg Court,” R&R 43.4 (2020): 171–198. Committee members were impressed by the originality of the research and found it persuasive.  Cook explores strategies employed by descendants of Amerindian leaders to assert their claims to elite status at the Spanish court. Bringing this to light was in itself an original contribution, yet the article went further, comparing the strategies used by these descendants of Amerindian leaders with those used by descendants of Islamic leaders in Granada. The article offers a fresh perspective on early modern empires and the various ways in which elite communities constructed authority and status. 

October 2020

The 2019 Natalie Zemon Davis Prize for the best article in volume 42 has been awarded to John-Mark Philo, for his essay, “English and Scottish Scholars at the Library at Gian Vincenzo Pinelli.” This article deals with an original topic — we know more about early modern English representations of Italy than about the way Italians perceived Britain. Based on a rich methodology, combining material archives, studies on the international circulation of books, and the reconstruction of social networks and relationships, with a minute study of the texts themselves, in their historical, literary and ideological contexts, this multilayered research shows the complex role played by Pinelli’s library as a hub of social and scholarly connection for European scholars in Italy.

October 2019

The 2018 Natalie Zemon Davis Prize for the best article in volume 41 has been awarded to Gina M. Di Salvo, for her essay, “'A Virgine and a Martyr both': The Turn to Hagiography in Heywood’s Reformation History Play.” This article considers a little-studied play and opens up a new account of seventeenth-century religious drama appearing on London’s commercial stages. It rigorously demonstrates how stage plays then “archive a sustained struggle with religious cultures, confessions, and doctrines” and their “abiding interest in divergent epistemologies of religion” that defy a simple Protestant-Catholic opposition. Heywood’s religion in If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody seems reductively partisan in its assertion of Catholic tyranny and its stress on vernacular scripture. Documenting Heywood's borrowing from a late medieval hagiographical repertoire to defend a Protestantism that poses “as universal English Christianity,” Di Salvo shows how Heywood distorted some features of his main source, the Protestant John Foxe. This precise and convincing analysis brings to light the complexity of popular religiosity in the Jacobean period.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

September 2018

The 2017 Natalie Zemon Davis Prize for the best article in volume 40 has been awarded to Christopher Ocker, for his essay, “After the Peasants’ War: Barbara (Schweikart) von Fuchstein Fights for Her Property.” This insightful essay provides an innovative and nuanced perspective on the political, social and religious tensions experienced in the aftermath of the German Peasants’ War. This thoroughly researched case study presents the shaping of religious identity as a complex and shifting process. It is both exciting as it brings to life the journey of an ordinary woman striving to regain her property, and exemplary as it shows the full relevance of exploring the “margins” of the Reformation. It opens new ground for fresh research into the history of religious controversy.

October 2017

The 2016 Natalie Zemon Davis Prize for the best article in volume 39 has been awarded to Marco Lamanna, for his essay, “Tommaso Campanella in the Schulmetaphysik: The Doctrine of the Three Primalities and the Case of the Lutheran Liborius Capsius (1589-1654) in Erfurt.” Lamanna not only explains a difficult subject clearly enough to be understood by non-specialists, but describes the teaching of the Lutheran Liborius Capsius, a Paedagogium teacher in Erfurt. Appended is an edition of a brief Latin text, 'a sort of syllabus of his academic lectures on metaphysics' (p. 92), printed in 1635. The essay carefully explains Capsius's remarkable integration of contemporary Italian philosophy into Reformed scholasticism. It is learned, original, and ground-breaking research on German philosophy in the University of Erfurt (Luther's alma mater), which until the Thirty Years' War had not fully adopted a Protestant curriculum.

March 2017

The 2014 Natalie Zemon Davis Prize for the best article in volume 37 has been awarded to Guy Poirier, for his paper, "Textes missionaires dans l'espace francophone," published in Renaissance and Reformation 37.4. The jury commented: "Describing a very promising collective project, the essay itself lays out succinctly and suggestively fresh themes to link the study of francophone missions that left Europe headed east to Asia and west to America. The essay urges scholars to approach these texts not as inert mines of rhetoric and information but as agents of encounter, creation, and memory."

January 2017

Congratulations to Mika Natif (George Washington University), for his paper, "Renaissance Painting and Expressions of Male Intimacy in a Seventeenth-Century Illustration from Mughal India," published in Renaissance and Reformation 38.4: 41-64. He was awarded the 2015 Natalie Zemon Davis Prize for the best publication in volume 38.

The committee found the essay exciting, with a wonderfully broad scope—European influence on Mughal Indian painting. The author combined a detailed reading of Govardhan's illustrations of Sa‘d?'s Gulistan vis-à-vis Sa‘d?'s text with a much broader contextualisation, showing, as one committee member phrased it, the "fascinatingly unexpected use" of the Christian Noli me tangere motif for male-male-intimacy in a Muslim context. The essay was a welcome reminder of how interconnected early modern cultures were and how quickly new artistic and intellectual traditions, brought thousands of miles by intrepid travellers and settlers, were absorbed and remodeled into different cultural traditions.

July 2014

With pleasure, we announce that the 2013 Natalie Zemon Davis prize has been awarded to Junhyoung Michael Shin, “The Passion and Flagellation in Sixteenth-Century Japan” (36.2). The  Natalie Zemon Davis prize is awarded to the best article published in the past year by the journal Renaissance and Reformation.

The committee was unanimous in praising the brilliance and originality of Shin’s article. “This original and highly suggestive study brilliantly uncovers the deep similarities between Catholic practices of mortification  and aspects of Japanese Buddhism that, in contrast to China, led to Japan’s early conversion.” Another committee member remarked that the article "is a groundbreaking study which describes the response within Japan to specific aspects of Catholic Christian culture.” Another reader noted that “based on the penetrating analysis of a wide range of Portuguese and Japanese sources, [the article] is a brilliant interdisciplinary case study in the global impact of Renaissance Christianity.” Also, “clearly written and compelling, it will be of interest to specialists and accessible to non-specialists.” Congratulations to Junhyoung Michael Shin!

Feburary 2014

The 2012 recipient of the Natalie Zemon Davis Prize is Ryan Hackenbracht, for his article "Mourning the Living: Surrey's 'Wyatt Resteth Here,' Henrician Funerary Debates, and the Passing of National  Virtue." The 2012 prize is awarded to the best article published in volume 35 of Renaissance and Reformation.

One reader noted, "In a focused and compelling reading of a sixteenth century elegy, Hackenbracht considers the poem as a form of narrative ritual to open up a broader history of the relationship between concepts of ritual and national identity in early modern England." Another noted that the text "exemplarily links the exegesis of a literary source -- the funeral elegy-- and the reconstitution of the intellectual and religious contexts that explain its wide and successful reception."

The committee is pleased to award the prize to this excellent article, which combines close reading and larger perspective on collective representations.

December 2012

The 2011 Natalie Zemon Davis Prize (volume 34) has been awarded to Emily Butterworth for her article “Scandal in Rabelais’s Tiers Livre: Divination, Interpretation, and Edification,” where she exemplarily demonstrated a balanced and stimulating approach of interdisciplinarity, originality, and scientific rigour. Congratulations!

The Natalie Zemon Davis Prize was established to recognize the best article published annually in Renaissance and Reformation. The value of the prize is $500 CAD. The prize honours the contributions of Professor Natalie Zemon Davis to early modern studies and, in particular, to Renaissance and Reformation, which she helped to found. The winners are selected by a subcommittee of the editorial board from among the articles published in each volume.

July 2012

The Natalie Zemon Davis Prize was established to recognize the best article published annually in Renaissance and Reformation. The value of the prize is $500 CAD. The prize honours the contributions of Professor Natalie Zemon Davis to early modern studies and, in particular, to Renaissance and Reformation, which she helped to found. The winners are selected by a subcommittee of the editorial board from among the articles published in each volume.

Winners of the last competitions:

Volume 33: Sally Hickson
Hickson, Sally. “Gian Cristoforo Romano in Rome: With some thoughts on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and the Tomb of Julius II.” Renaissance and Reformation 33.1 (Winter 2010): 3-30.

"The committee praised the extensive research and its truly outstanding detail. Well researched, this paper pays attention to tiny but significant historical details and reads like a detective story."

Volume 32: Sandro Landi 
Landi, Sandro. “Décrire et gouverner l’opinion. Pour une phénoménologie de la correspondance publique de Machiavel.” Renaissance and Reformation 32.3 (Summer 2009): 3-27.

"This exemplary essay offers an original and discerning study of Machiavelli’s correspondence in terms of the practical, philosophical, and national significance of doxa in the history of communication practices. "Décrire et gouverner l’opinion" is distinguished by the subtlety of its literary, philosophical, and political analyses, and by a cross-disciplinary approach."

Volume 31: Luc Vaillancourt 
Vaillancourt, Luc. “Henri III épistolier : rhétorique royale de la lettre familière.” Renaissance and Reformation 31.4 (Fall 2008): 97-113.

"The Committee admired the depth of historical scholarship, the subtlety of textual analyses, and the author's ability to bring these two dimensions together in an interdisciplinary perspective."

Volume 30: Ben Burton 
Burton, Ben'The praise of that I yeld for sacrifice': Anne Lock and the Poetics of the Eucharist.” Renaissance and Reformation 30.3 (Summer 2006/2007): 89-118.  

"In meticulous fashion the author demonstrates the profound relevance of sacramental hermeneutics (…) to a broad revision of aesthetics; hence the essay’s governing concept of a “reformed poetics of the Eucharist.” (…) This insightful essay is of exceptionally fine quality; it makes a substantive contribution to early-modern scholarship."