John Van Engen, Andrew V. Tackes Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, has been awarded the 2010 Otto Gründler Book Prize for “Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life: The Devotio Moderna and the World of the Later Middle Ages” (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008). The honor is given each year to an author whose work in any area of Medieval studies is judged to be an outstanding contribution to the field.
“Drawing upon an unrivaled knowledge of writings by and about the Modern Devout, Van Engen succeeds in giving context to the humanity, the urban and religious community, even the spiritual longings of this vanished experiment in communal living, set amid the rich complexity of Dutch urban life,” the prize citation notes.
Adds Thomas Noble, chair of Notre Dame’s Department of History, the book is based on “meticulous research in numerous archives and draws upon little-known writings in Middle Dutch. The Gründler prize, along with others garnered by this book, have established Van Engen as a premier interpreter of Medieval religious life.”
Widely recognized for his research in Medieval studies, Van Engen has received two previous honors for “Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life.” In 2009, he was the recipient of the John Gilmary Shea Prize and the Philip Schaff Prize, both of which acknowledged the significance of his work on a topic shrouded in uncertainty for hundreds of years.
In addition to his study of the Modern Devout and of religious and intellectual life during the Middle Ages, Van Engen’s research focuses on several other areas of importance in Medieval history. Some of his previous books and essays have centered on women’s writing, schools and universities, canon law, and notions of reform. He also is an active translator of Latin and Middle Dutch texts.
Van Engen joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1977, has been a visiting professor at Harvard University, and has held research fellowships at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. He received his award in May of this year at the Kalamazoo International Congress on Medieval Studies.
The Gründler prize was established in 1997 by Diether Haenicke, former president of Western Michigan University, in honor of Otto Gründler and his commitment to the field of Medieval studies. The 2010 prize considered all books published in 2008, and scholars from around the world were eligible for nomination.