Megan J. Hall | April 30, 2017
Since 2001, through the generous response of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to a challenge grant awarded to Notre Dame by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Medieval Institute has offered an A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Medieval Studies to an outstanding young scholar to do research while in residence for the year at Notre Dame. This Fellowship is designed for junior faculty who currently hold a position in a United States university as an assistant professor and enables its holders to complete research and writing on a book manuscript in advance of tenure.
This year's Mellon Fellow is Laura Veneskey, Assistant Professor of Ancient, Medieval, and Byzantine Art at Wake Forest University, working on a project entitled Earthly Icons: Between Matter & Figuration in Early Byzantine Art that, as she describes, "confronts the dynamic relationship between image and matter." On April 1st, the MI held its annual colloquium, an opportunity for the fellow and respondents to convene with the rest of the medievalist community at Notre Dame in an informal setting to evaluate and discuss the fellow’s book manuscript in progress. Veneskey presented a portion of her research focusing on the Sancta Sanctorum reliquary (pictured at right), a mysterious object commonly thought to be a pilgrimage souvenir with sixth- or seventh-century Syrian/Palestinian origins that now resides in the Vatican. In her work on the reliquary presented at the Colloquium, Veneskey considered questions of matter—the wax, earth, wood, and stone that make up the box—and the interplay of that matter with the subjects of the box, a symbolic imagining of the Crucifixion on the cover and other painted religious scenes on the inner lid.