Project Prize

CARMEN, The Worldwide Medieval Network, invites submissions for its annual Project Prize. This award recognises projects and initiatives in any area of Medieval Studies with the potential to advance our understanding of the medieval period or its reception in important and innovative ways. Unlike conventional publication prizes, the CARMEN Project Prize seeks to identify the highest-quality academic research at the planning and development stage, and to foster its future progress.

The aims of the CARMEN Project Prize, first awarded in 2018, reflect the distinctive mission of CARMEN, The Worldwide Medieval Network, as an international forum for scholars at all levels to exchange ideas, build partnerships and develop collaborative research. Applicants for this year’s prize will present their project proposals at the 2021 CARMEN annual meeting, hosted by the Medieval Academy of America and Harvard University’s Committee on Medieval Studies, which will convene virtually on 2-4 September 2021. The Prize winner(s) will be announced at the conclusion of the annual meeting. Applications are due by Friday, 23 July 2021.

Click here for a copy of the 2021 Project Prize application form

Who can enter?

  • Any medievalist at any career stage, from those completing research degrees (Ph.D. / D.Phil.) to full professors;
  • Proposals can come from single researchers or teams (collaborative project ideas are particularly encouraged). Team members should be identified on the entry form, with the application itself submitted by a Lead Applicant.

What kind of research project is eligible?

  • Research projects may address any aspect of Medieval Studies or Medievalism (the later reception of the Middle Ages), from any disciplinary (or multi-disciplinary) perspective;
  • Projects should not yet have received substantial funding, and should be in the development stage;
  • Projects should be post-doctoral (i.e., not part of prospective or ongoing Ph.D. thesis research).

How will entries be judged?

  • Entries will be evaluated by members of the CARMEN Executive Committee, on the basis of the project presentation at the CARMEN meeting;
  • Criteria to be considered include the quality, significance and innovation of the project, its potential to transform or advance scholarship within Medieval Studies, and the feasibility of the project’s aims, scale, and timetable.

What does the winner of the CARMEN Project Prize get?

  • Public prize presentation at the CARMEN Annual Meeting;
  • A bursary of up to €350 to attend the following year’s CARMEN Annual Meeting, where the project leader or team will be invited to deliver a plenary address on the development of their project over the past year.
  • Recognition of the project’s quality and potential, including a written citation – valuable for securing funding and attracting collaborators and sponsors as the project moves forward;
  • Expert mentoring from CARMEN members and senior medievalists at CARMEN Affiliated Member Organizations.

Prize Winners


Philippa Byrne 

(Faculty of History, University of Oxford) was awarded the 2019 CARMEN Project Prize for “Listening for the Middle Ages”. This project, which aims to develop a series of medieval soundscapes for use in research and education, was commended by the prize committee for its importance and timeliness, the clear strategic framework already established by the project team, the clarity and compelling nature of the questions it poses, and its high degree of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Joris Roosen

(Utrecht University) received a Special Commendation for “The Black Death Digital Archive”. The judges were impressed with the cross-national reach of the project (both in terms of the research team itself as well as the global reach of their work), its potential to advance scholarly and public understanding of the second plague pandemic through the creation of a multidisciplinary web portal, and its exciting integration of Medieval Studies with the burgeoning field of the Medical Humanities. Dr. Roosen was honored at the CARMEN Annual Meeting in Prague in September 2019, where he workshopped his project with the support of a €100 CARMEN travel bursary.


James Smith

(Trinity College, Dublin) was awarded the inaugural CARMEN Project Prize for “Pre-modern Manuscripts and Early Books in Conflict Zones”. This project, framed around capacity-building in the form of a COST Action application, aims to raise awareness of medieval and early modern manuscripts and early books under threat from conflict, and their need for protection. It interrogates the cultural phenomena surrounding the creation and destruction of written heritage, as well as the received scientific and cultural beliefs of conservators and digitizers. The project will provide mechanisms for events and meetings addressing three prospective challenges to be explored within the COST Action, equipping scholars with a diverse set of skills, and merging scientific and practical approaches. The project is collaborative, involving an international steering group from the Universities of Leiden and Bergen, the UK National Archives, and the University of Applied Science, Potsdam. Dr. Smith was honored at the CARMEN Annual Meeting in Tampere, Finland in August 2018, where he led a workshop on his project with the support of a €350 CARMEN travel bursary.

Elizabeth L’Estrange

(University of Birmingham) received a Special Commendation for “Redefining Women and the Book in the Middle Ages (c. 800-1600)”. This project reassesses the relationship between women and book culture in the European Middle Ages (broadly defined) by moving scholarship beyond the traditional focus on devotional manuscripts owned by aristocratic Christian women from France, England and Burgundy between the mid-fourteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth. By analyzing a greater variety of women (e.g. non-elite, non-Christian) across a broader chronological (c. 800- 1600) and geographical range (e.g. Scandinavia, Iberia, Eastern Europe), the project offers a more nuanced understanding of women’s interaction with written culture as readers, patrons, writers and translators c. 800-1600. Dr. L’Estrange was honored at the CARMEN Annual Meeting in Tampere, Finland in August 2018, where she presented her project with the support of a €100 CARMEN travel bursary.

Paul B. Sturtevant 

(The Smithsonian Institution / The Public Medievalist) received a Special Commendation for “The Public Medievalcast, Season 1: Borders”. This podcast is a venture into a new medium by the team at The Public Medievalist, a popular web-zine that seeks to present the latest research in medieval studies in a way that is free, accessible, and enjoyable for a broad popular audience. While the topic of borders—between nations, religions, genders, and more—is ubiquitous in popular discourse, it tends to be treated in an uncritical fashion. This podcast means to present medieval histories of some of our present-day borders, as a way of exploring with more nuance the invisible barriers erected around our lives.