Recipients of the CMRS-CEGS Dissertation Research Fellowship
Nicolyna Enriquez (Art History)
Surrounded by Sea, Rooted in Land: An Environmental History of Late Byzantine Art on Crete
Nicolyna’s dissertation, situated at the intersection of island studies and environmental history, explores how rural Cretan villagers in late Byzantium (13th-15th century) perceived and experienced their insular environment. Focusing on two provinces on the island, she brings together visual imagery, architectural studies, archaeological research, and topographical analysis into a comprehensive discussion of Late Byzantine island communities and the surrounding terrestrial and maritime world. By combining the placement of churches in the larger landscape and taskscape (a term coined by Tim Ingold to specify the series of interlocking activities that take place in a landscape over time) of the island with the visual evidence on their walls, Nicolyna argues that rural churches are not simply mirrors of the heavenly realm (a metaphor articulated by Byzantine theologians) but are simultaneously deeply connected to the surrounding environment. This dissertation proposes a broader understanding of the relationship between rural island villagers and the sea and land from which they gained sustenance, engaged in trade, and, in the case of climate, from which they requested divine protection.
Stefanie Matabang (Comparative Literature)
Stefanie’s dissertation explores the complex operation of what she terms “Filipino medievalism” (the interpretation, (re)imagining, and utilization of the European Middle Ages in the postcolonial Philippines), and its role in the development of Filipino identity and nationalism. By examining popular adaptations of medieval texts from the Spanish colonial period (1521-1898) and surviving films from the U.S. occupation (1898-1946) and Japanese occupation (1942-1945) that translate and employ medieval narratives and motifs, she elucidates the utility of medievalism to native agency and subversion within an environment of consistent colonial rule. Arguing that Filipino medievalism served as a reliable and pliable space of imagination and invention through which resistance to colonial hegemony could be cultivated, the dissertation attempts to expose the integrality of medievalism in the development of Filipino nationalism and its implications for Filipino identity discourse. Stefanie’s work contributes to growing Fillipino scholarship on the significance of mimicry in the Filipino colonial space and endeavors to disrupt traditional western understandings of the idea of the “Middle Ages,” centering a Filipino worldview.