Maranci’s ‘Vigilant Powers’ Wins Karen Gould Prize

The cover of Vigilant Powers: Three Churches of Early Medieval Armenia (Photo: Brepols)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (A.W.)—Vigilant Powers: Three Churches of Early Medieval Armenia by historian Christina Maranci was recently awarded the prestigious Karen Gould Prize for books in medieval art history.

[Vigilant Powers] is a closely observed, beautifully written, and deeply evocative architectural analysis of a culture at a global crossroads,” read a part of a statement published by the Medieval Academy of America.

Established in 2016 by an endowed gift from Lewis Gould, the Karen Gould Prize is awarded annually for a book or monograph in medieval art history judged by the selection committee to be of outstanding quality.

Vigilant Powers, which was published in 2015, ushers the reader into the world of early medieval Armenia—its sacred landscapes, striking churches, and rich literary and religious traditions. An examination of three sculpted and inscribed monuments produced during the “global” wars of the 7th  century demonstrates the close engagement of Armenia with Byzantine imperial interests and with contemporary events in the Holy Land. The dramatic context of the military frontier, and the apocalyptic expectations of its contemporaries, shaped a vibrant visual culture with ties to both the Byzantine and the Sasanian worlds.

The 7th century monuments of Armenia are important not only because they are examples of an extraordinary moment of local cultural production but also because they fill a crucial gap in our knowledge about the medieval traditions of the Christian East, from which little survives. Vigilant Powers is the first English-language book devoted to the subject.

Maranci is a researcher, writer, historian, and professor at Tufts University. Her expertise is in Armenian architecture. She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University, focusing on “Medieval Armenian Architecture in Historiography: Josef Strzygowski and his Legacy.” Maranci is also the author of A Survival Guide for Art History Students (2004) and Medieval Armenian Architecture: Constructions of Race and Nation (2001).

In early 2017, Maranci was awarded the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Dr. Sona Aronian Book Prize for Excellence in Armenian Studies for Vigilant Powers.

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