The Margaret B. Ševčenko Prize in Islamic Art and Culture
How to apply
Submission must include the paper in both Word and PDF format, and a separate sheet with the author’s contact information (address, telephone number, and email address). Papers should not exceed 10,000 words in length (including footnotes), and can be accompanied by up to 15 low-resolution illustrations.
Please note that submissions cannot be in press or under review with any publisher.
A letter of recommendation for the paper should be sent separately by the author’s adviser or referee.
All materials should be submitted by email to the Ševčenko committee chair (firstname.lastname@example.org) by December 15. Files exceeding 5 Mb should be transferred by FTP.
PhD Candidate, Department of Asian Studies, University of Texas
Deccan Masters of Penmanship and Poetry: the Importance of Calligraphy for the formation of Early Modern Dakani Literary Culture
Namrata Kanchan's well-written and cogently argued paper examines a corpus of Deccan manuscripts produced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Through a fine-grained analysis of calligraphic styles, Kanchan argues that the use of naskh for Dakani-language texts was a deliberate stylistic choice, motivated by a desire to create a distinct identity for this emerging linguistic tradition. She skillfully demonstrates her expertise on this material, stitching together an impressive command of relevant languages (Persian, Dakani, Urdu, among others), with socio-historical context and visual analysis. The committee greatly appreciated Kanchan's attention to detail and commitment to research, tracking down manuscripts in dispersed collections. This essay joins a growing area of scholarship on the early modern Deccan sultanates, offering exciting new insights into the development of vernacular languages and the literary and visual cultures that they inhabited.
Fatima Quraishi (Chair), University of California, Riverside
Elizabeth Williams, UMass, Lowell
Amanda Phillips, University of Virginia
Post-Doctoral Fellow at Bard Graduate Center
Kufic Epigraphy Between Norman Sicily and Ifriqiya
Fein’s paper analyzes a series of stucco fragments from a group of 12th century Norman churches in Sicily. Through careful visual analysis, Fein reconstructs inscriptions that had been previously dismissed as pseudo-kufic, revealing and translating their legible content. Moving from the painstaking work of recreation and translation, Fein uses these fragments to consider the full cultural context of medieval Sicily, providing new insight into craft process and cultural connection. She convincingly argues that these fragments should not only be considered within the traditional framework of Norman Sicilian and Fatimid Egyptian exchange but that they demonstrate Sicily’s ongoing artistic conversation with Ifriqiya. Using comparative visual and historical evidence, Fein suggests that Sicily’s connection with Ifriqiya not only continued but had even become localized by the time of Norman rule. The essay is a model of object study, moving from the careful observation of epigraphic form to the broader consideration of cultural context, offering fresh insight into the rich context of Mediterranean cultural exchange.
Kishwar Rizvi (Chair), Yale University
Sana Mirza, Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Jennifer Pruitt, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Laura Weinstein, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
PhD Candidate, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture and the History, Theory, and Criticism Program at the Department of Architecture, MIT
The Sphero-conical as Apothecary Vessel: An Argument for Dedicated Use
Courtney Lesoon’s exceptionally written and argued paper takes up a close, object-based analysis of sphero-conical vessels. While ubiquitous, these artifacts have puzzled archaeologists and art historians alike who, unable to definitively deduce these objects’ utilitarian purposes, end up marginalizing such vessels as ‘mysterious’ quotidian products. In redressing such views, Lesoon takes up a rigorous, in-depth interdisciplinary analysis of these vessels by considering epigraphic, decorative, material, illustrative evidence in a selection of these objects, produced between the 10th-13thcentury across the Islamic world, as well as visual representations of them in manuscripts and other media. Through this meticulous empirical approach to the topic, Lesoon convincingly argues that sphero-canonical vessels likely served as apothecary jars for personal-use dosages similar in purpose to the albarello, which was popular in Europe. The committee was impressed by Lesoon’s studious research, astute analysis, and cogent argument. Most importantly, the committee felt that this study of seemingly negligible vessels is not only a significant intervention in the field of Islamic art and archaeology, but also makes a meaningful contribution to the history of pharmacology and medicine, thus demonstrating the relevance and importance of art historical analyses and methodologies beyond the discipline’s boundaries
Hala Auji (Chair), American University of Beirut
Eva Maria-Troelenberg, Utrecht University
Peyvand Firouzeh, The University of Sydney
Curator, Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin
‘My Love for Pretty Faces and Heart Bewitching Hair,’ Persian Calligraphy and its Poetic Frame
Margaret Shortle’s paper examines the intersection of aurality and visuality in the calligraphic practices found in albums of Persian poetry during the 16th to 17th centuries. Her essay takes up a close visual and textual analysis of poetry and the poetic form found in albums produced by the calligrapher Mir Ali for the Mughal court, which she supports with a reading of Adab al-Mashq (Manners of Practices), Baba Shah Isfahani’s contemporaneous guide on calligraphy. The committee was impressed by Shortle’s cogently argued and researched essay, and felt that what set her contribution apart was her nuanced and meticulous exploration not only of the iconicity of the calligrapher’s words and signatures, but also of the entanglements of these visuals with the poetic verses themselves and their connection to orality, vis-à-vis performance, recitation, and memorization. The committee felt that Shortle’s truly interdisciplinary methodology that considers the intersectionality of visuality, orality, and performativity in early modern Persian poetic traditions, challenges the boundaries of the field’s traditional approaches to calligraphic practice
Hala Auji, American University of Beirut, HIAA International Representative
Eloise Brac de la Perrière, Sorbonne-Université, Paris
Mercedes Volait , (Committee chair), Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris
Assistant Professor, Temple University, Tyler School of Art
The Church that the Pasha Built: Towards a Multi-Confessional History of Islamic Architecture
The paper addresses the issue of architectural patronage in the late Ottoman empire, by focusing on one (seemingly unusual) case: a provincial Christian monastic complex built in 1814 to celebrate a martyr, on the order of an Ottoman vizir (Ali Pasha from Tepelena, in present-day Albania). Clearly written and articulated, the paper weaves together archival, epigraphical and archaeological evidence to write a micro-history of the building, and raises ultimately the issue of multi-confessionality in Islamic architecture, a category still poorly researched and understood in the field. Including more material on Ali Pasha, a major historical figure of his time who became moreover a literary character, could turn the paper into a fascinating essay on religious patronage. The essay has thus the potential to open new ground for the study of late Ottoman architecture, a period still understudied.
Nebahat Avcıoğlu, CUNY Hunter College
Moya Carey, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
Mercedes Volait, Committee chair, Centre national de la recherche scientifique
The Illuminations of Mukhlis ibn ʿAbdullah al-Hindi: Identifying Manuscripts from Late Medieval Konya
A Tale of Two Mosques: Marrakesh’s Masjid al-jamiʿ al-Kutubiyya
The committee would also like to award an honorable mention to Bahar Bilgin Uşar (MA student, Koç University) for her study “The Aksaray Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque Complex: Reflections on the Patronage of a Nineteenth Century Valide Sultan."
The Cemevi: The Form and Setting of Alevi Ceremonial Architecture
Shangri La: The Archive-Museum and the Spatial Topologies of Islamic Art History
A Politics of the Arabesque in Syria, 1936-1952
Diana Isaac Bakhoum
The Foundation of a Tabrizi Workshop in Cairo: A Case Study of its Influence on the Mosque of Emir Altunbugha al-Maridani
A Material Culture: Ottoman Velvets and their Owners, 1600–1750
Ugo Monneret de Villard (1881-1954) and the Establishment of Islamic Art Studies in Italy
Abbasid Lusterware and the Aesthetics of ‘ajab
The Afterlife of a Royal Gift: The Ottoman Inserts of the Shahnama-yi Shahi
The Sultan's New Clothes: Ottoman-Mamluk Gift Exchange in the Fifteenth Century
The Production of the Sehname-i Selim Han
The Ilkhanid Mi'rajnama of ca. 1317-35 [TSK H. 2154] as an illustrated Sunni prayer manual
Architecture and the Twelver Shi‘a Tradition: The Great Imāmbārā complex of Lucknow