CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Dr. Christina Maranci’s 2015 book Vigilant Powers: Three Churches of Early Medieval Armenia (Brepols) became the first recipient of the Karen Gould Prize of the Medieval Academy of America (MAA) in January. According to the announcement, the book “is a closely-observed, beautifully written, and deeply evocative architectural analysis of a culture at a global crossroads. With meticulous scholarship, Maranci explores Armenia’s creative engagement with the Byzantine, Sassanian, and Umayyad empires, underscoring the fluidity of cultural frontiers between them.”
The volume analyzes the medieval Armenian cathedrals of Zvartnots (Zuart‘noc‘) and Mren, and the princely church at Ptghini. As the award announcement notes, “Sadly, each of the three Armenian churches is imperiled in the twenty-first century by political and military tensions, as well as by seismic activity and natural erosion. Her book is also shaped, therefore, by a pressing sense of urgency about the survival of this unique Armenian patrimony.”
In response to the award, Maranci declared, “The personal and professional recognition by the Medieval Academy of America makes me very happy; I am even happier that they have recognized an Armenian subject as worthy of the award.” Both Sirarpie Der Nersessian and Nina Garsoian were elected fellows of the MAA, but this appears to be the first time that a book primarily on an Armenian topic has been recognized by the MAA.
The Karen Gould Prize, established by an endowed gift from Lewis Gould in 2016, is awarded annually for a book or monograph (conference proceedings and collected essays are not eligible) in medieval art history judged by the selection committee to be of outstanding quality. To be eligible, the author must reside in North America and be a member in good standing of the Medieval Academy of America.
Karen Gould (1946–2012) was an art historian specializing in manuscript illumination and was the author of The Psalter and Hours of Yolande of Soissons (Speculum Anniversary Monographs) (Medieval Academy of America, 1978). The prize established in her name consists of a certificate and a monetary award of $1,000 to be announced at the annual meeting of the academy each spring.
Maranci’s Vigilant Powers previously won the 2016 National Association of Armenian Studies and Research Dr. Sona Aronian Book Prize for Excellence in Armenian Studies. Maranci is Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Professor of Armenian Art and Architecture at Tufts University. Her 1998 doctoral dissertation at Princeton University is titled “Medieval Armenian Architecture in Historiography: Josef Strzygowski and his Legacy.”