Historical HonorsGAMBIER, Ohio (January 21, 2005) Working with patchy sources that present tough analytical challenges is a rewarding experience for history professor Jeffrey Bowman, Kenyon's John B. McCoy-Bank One Distinguished Teaching Professor. And the rewards just got a little sweeter. Bowman's recent book, Shifting Landmarks: Property, Proof, and Dispute in Catalonia Around the Year 1000, has won the 2004 Premio del Rey Prize from the American Historical Association.
Awarded biennially for a distinguished book written on the medieval period of Spain, the Premio del Rey Prize is one the most prestigious awards offered for historical scholarship.
Bowman's book, which examines the records of property disputes in a period when no single law code was accepted as authoritative in Europe, opens a window on society, power, and law in the Middle Ages. The "landmarks" of the title refer not only to actual markers but also to shifting legal conceptions, including the concept of proof and the definition of property itself. In discussing the disputes, Bowman sketches portraits of judges, nobles, abbots, and families, so that the book offers insights about the rough-and-tumble of daily life as well as about social, political, and intellectual trends.
In his classes, Bowman immerses students in the complexity of historical analysis by having them read sources that are one-sided or incomplete. "The study of history is not simply the accumulation of facts, but also understanding the ways sources are written from a particular rhetorical position," says Bowman. "Many Kenyon undergraduates arrive with the expectation that the discipline of history involves sort of a Dragnet approach--just the facts."
The American Historical Association (AHA) is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1884 and incorporated by Congress in 1889 for the promotion of historical studies, the collection and preservation of historical documents and artifacts, and the dissemination of historical research.