The annual ESSA Book Prize and the ESSA Article Prize are awarded at the annual ESSA meeting at the ASEEES convention, and the winners are announced in the Newsletter. An additional ESSA Translation Prize is also awarded occasionally. Nominations may be made by members in good standing during the call for nominations. All nominated books, articles, and translations must be by ESSA members in good standing.
Matthew Romaniello, Enterprising Empires: Russia and Britain in Eighteenth-Century Eurasia (Cambridge University Press, 2019).
This is a highly accomplished and extensively researched work. It draws evidence from archives in Russia, Britain, Spain and the United States. The scope of the book is broad and contributes not only to the eighteenth-century Russian history, but also to British, Eurasian, and global histories. The central claim of Russia’s underappreciated economic success and bargaining power in the eighteenth century is broad and provides a new argument to explain the divergence of Britain and Russia in the nineteenth century as well as a reassessment of the “perpetually backwards” Russia thesis. The book is also well-written, with a number of engaging anecdotes and colourful characters.
Honorable mention: Elena Draghici-Vasilescu, Heavenly Sustenance in Patristic Texts and Byzantine iconography (Palgrave, 2018).
The author discusses the iconographic and theological role of spiritual nourishment and more specifically lactation from the earliest Greco-Christian sources through the Byzantine Empire and its successor states. One of its major novelties lies in connecting theological trends across the Mediterranean at a time when the schism had supposedly created two mutually-inimical worlds. The obsession with lactation on the part of sermon-writers and the apocryphal tales surrounding Mary’s supernatural lactation abilities are fascinating. Furthermore, the author develops an interesting argument that the Church employed lactation imagery as a means of countering the anti-material Bogomils.
Erika Monahan, "Moving Pictures: Tobol’sk ‘Traveling’ in Early Modern Texts,” Canadian-American Slavic Studies 52.2–3 (2018): 261–89.
This is an original and well-argued article on the subject of knowledge creation and dissemination in eighteenth-century Russia, as well as a look at the kind of European-wide scholarly networks which Peter’s Russia joined. It is especially important that this text places the focus not solely on Russia but on the trans-national scholarly milieu from which Petrine Russia benefitted.
Honorable mention: Alice Sullivan, “The Athonite Patronage of Stephen III of Moldavia, 1457-1504,” Speculum 94, no. 1 (2019): 1–46.
This is a valuable and a well-researched article. Using an impressive array of sources, the author examines and interprets the use of patronage by Stephen to bolster his claims to sovereignty, especially after the fall of Constantinople. The author offers an interesting point about competition for the role of Orthodox tsar after 1453. It is a critical and thoughtful work that deserves recognition.
The 2016 Book Prize for most outstanding recent scholarly monograph on pre-modern Slavdom was awarded to Paul Knoll for 'A Pearl of Powerful Learning': The University of Cracow in the Fifteenth Century (Brill, 2016).
The 2015 winner of the Early Slavic Studies Association Book Prize is Julia Verkholantsev's The Slavic Letters of St. Jerome: The History of the Legend and Its Legacy, or, How the Translator of the Vulgate Became an Apostle of the Slavs (Northern Illinois University Press).