Book on Medieval Syrian Shrines Takes Grand Prize at Hamilton Book Awards

images Stephennie Mulder, associate professor of Islamic art and architecture at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named the $10,000 grand prize winner of the 2015 University Co-op Robert W. Hamilton Book Awards for her work The Shrines of the ‘Alids in Medieval Syria: Sunnis, Shi’is, and the Architecture of Coexistence.

The Hamilton Awards are among the highest honors of literary achievement given to UT Austin authors.

The awards are named for Professor Robert W. Hamilton, the Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair-Emeritus in Law, who served as chair of the board of the University Co-op from 1989 to 2001.

The Shrines of the ‘Alids in Medieval Syria: Sunnis, Shi’is, and the Architecture of Coexistence (published by Edinburgh University Press) is the first illustrated, architectural history of these shrines, increasingly endangered by the conflict in Syria. Mulder, a specialist in Islamic architectural history and archaeology, spent years in the field in Syria and throughout the Middle East. She works on the conservation of antiquities and cultural heritage sites endangered by war and illegal trafficking, and is a founder of UT Antiquities Action, a group dedicated to raising awareness of the loss of cultural heritage.

Three other UT Austin professors received $3,000 runner-up prizes:

  • Donna Kornhaber, Department of English, for Charlie Chaplin, Director(Northwestern University Press)
  • Fernando L. Lara, Department of Architecture, for Modern Architecture in Latin America: Art, Technology, and Utopia, co-authored with Luis E. Carranza (University of Texas Press)
  • Kelly McDonough, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, for The Learned Ones: Nahua Intellectuals in Postconquest Mexico (University of Arizona Press)

The University Co-operative Society also announced winners for its research awards Monday. Go to this website for more information.

 

‘Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an’ Author Wins $10,000 Hamilton Book Award

Denise Spellberg, grand prize winner of the Hamilton Book Awards.

Denise Spellberg, grand prize winner of the Hamilton Book Awards.

Denise Spellberg, professor in the Departments of History, Middle Eastern Studies and Religious Studies, won the $10,000 grand prize at the Hamilton Book Awards for her work “Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders.” (Knopf, 2013) on Wednesday, Oct. 15 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin.

The awards are the highest honor of literary achievement given to published authors at The University of Texas at Austin. They are sponsored by the University Co-operative Society.

TJQIn “Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders,” Spellberg recounts how a handful of the country’s founders, Jefferson foremost among them, drew upon Enlightenment ideas about the tolerance of Muslims to fashion a practical foundation for governance in America. For more about the book listen to her podcast on the History Department’s Not Even Past website.

Four other UT Austin professors received $3,000 runner-up prizes:

– Desmond F. Lawler — Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering, for his work “Water Quality Engineering: Physical/Chemical Treatment Processes,” co-authored with Mark Benjamin, University of Washington; Published by John Wiley & Sons

– Huaiyin Li — Department of History, for his work “Reinventing Modern China: Imagination and Authenticity in Chinese Historical Writing”; Published by University of Hawaii Press

– Allison E. Lowery — Department of Theatre and Dance, for her work “Historical Wig Styling: Volumes 1 and 2”; Published by Focal Press/Taylor and Francis Group

– Mark Metzler — Department of Asian Studies, for his work “Capital as Will and Imagination: Schumpeter’s Guide to the Postwar Japanese Miracle”; Published by Cornell University Press

The Hamilton Awards are named in honor of Professor Robert W. Hamilton, the Minerva House Drysdale Regent Chair-Emeritus in Law. Professor Hamilton was chair of the Co-op Board for 12 years, from 1989 to 2001, and was in large measure responsible for the Co-op’s uncommon growth and profitability during that period. Visit this website for more about the award winners.

When Writing Met Art

Bibliophiles may spend a lot of time thinking about writing, but that generally means the writing we see as we flip the pages of a book, not going back to the clay tablets and artifacts found in the ancient Near East.

To understand those beginning forms of written communication, there is no better source than Denise Schmandt-Besserat, professor emerita in the Departments of Art and Art History and Middle Eastern Studies.

Schmandt-Besserat is credited with discovering the origins of writing. Her most recent book, “When Writing Met Art: From Symbol to Story” (University of Texas Press, 2007) looks at what happened when writing and art began to interact and shape each other.

The book won the $10,000 grand prize at the university’s prestigious Hamilton Book Awards this year.

“Art was age-old when writing began,” writes Schmandt-Besserat. Writing didn’t arrive until more than three millennia after art, and when it did, it was an accounting device used to keep track of goods such as measures of grains. When art and writing start to interface, both forms evolved.

Full of photos and illustrations, “When Writing Met Art” traces how writing was transformed from accounting device to a means of visual communication, opening up the possibility of sharing law, narrative, and history.

It was awhile before we’d be turning the pages of “War and Peace,” but we were on our way.

Hamilton Book Award runners-up for 2008 include:
Carlton Erickson for “The Science of Addiction: From Neurobiology to Treatment;”
James Loehlin for “Chekhov: The Cherry Orchard;”
John Markert for “Physics for Engineers and Scientists, 3rd edition;”
Kurt Weyland for “Bounded Rationality and Policy Diffusion: Social Sector Reform in Latin America.”