Barton Awarded Fellowship for Research on Medieval Spain

Thomas W. Barton, Ph.D., assistant professor, department of  History, has been awarded a fellowship by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).

Together with generous additional support from the university and College of Arts and Sciences, the fellowship will permit Barton a one-year research leave to complete his book manuscript, entitled In the Shadow of Conquest: Settlement, Memory, and Authority in the Crown of Aragon, 1148-1300. Barton is one of 56 fellowship recipients for the 2010-2011 academic year selected from a pool of over 1,100 applicants from throughout the disciplines of the humanities and humanities-related social sciences.

Founded in 1919, the private, nonprofit ACLS is a federation of seventy national scholarly organizations and the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences. The council awards peer-reviewed fellowships for scholarly work it identifies as furthering “the advancement of humanistic studies in all fields of the humanities and social sciences and the maintenance and strengthening of national societies dedicated to those studies.”

Based on several years of intensive research in Europe, Barton’s project explores the ways in which European societies during the Middle Ages conquered and colonized their frontiers, implanting in them Latin-Christian institutions, through the analysis of the Crown of Aragon’s integration from the mid-twelfth century of Muslim-ruled territory now known as New Catalonia (in northeastern Spain, south of Barcelona).

Thousands of previously neglected documents from diverse archival collections located throughout Spain, from the royal archives in Barcelona to cathedral and municipal archives in the smaller towns of Tortosa and Lleida, show how the organization, traditions, and administrative practices established in the wake of the conquest shaped the later history of the region, institutionalizing aspects of its frontier environment.

In the Shadow of Conquest thus explains how the changing socio-political contexts influencing colonization along shifting frontiers enhanced localization within medieval European society.

The fellowship will allow Barton to make a short trip to Spain to conduct some final research for the project as well as interact with colleagues resident in Catalonia and wider Europe.

Most importantly, it will permit him to focus his full attention for most of the year on writing and preparing his book for publication.

Since his research heavily informs his teaching, Barton also expects the leave of absence to improve the range of courses he enjoys offering at the University of San Diego, including classes on the Medieval World, European Discovery and Conquest, and Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Pre-modern Iberia.