The winner of this years' article prize is Mirela Ivanova's article "Inventing and ethnicising Slavonic in the long ninth century", in Journal of Medieval History 47,4-5 (2021).
Mirela Ivanova's "Inventing and Ethnicising Slavonic in the Long Ninth Century" puts forward a fresh argument based on careful theoretical consideration and detailed historical reflection. Using the "ideological model of literacy" that was developed by the most recent scholarship on literacy studies, the article challenges the ethnodriven model found in most accounts of the invention of Slavonic, showing that the ethnicity of Slavonic does not emerge in the earliest accounts of the alphabet's creation and that the invention myth is cast in new, ethnicized light only in the Life of Methodios, mainly as a response to the crisis in episcopal authority and papal patronage faced by the Methodian milieu. In integrating the invention of Slavonic into broader sociopolitical and intellectual praxis, Ivanova makes a precious contribution to our field in the broadest possible sense. The work is interdisciplinary and innovative and makes a clear intervention into existent historiography, chiming in on a topical issue in Early Slavic Studies and indeed in Slavic Studies more generally.
Tomasz Grusiecki’s article, “Close Others: Poles in the Visual Imaginary of Early Modern Amsterdam”, uses visual materials depicting Polish people and costume to engage with theoretical ideas about exoticism and Otherness. The work applies Piotrowski’s idea of the “close other” to shed light on Western European attitudes towards Poles in the early modern period. Grusiecki writes eloquently and deploys critical theory with precision. Drawing on fresh materials, he contests convincingly binary theories of cultural difference. Overall, the article not only produces a series of engaging close analyses of visual sources, but it also crafts a nuanced argument that has broad cross-cultural significance.