Damian Fleming, IPFW Medievalist, receives prestigious Mellon, NEH Awards for Research


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News release from IPFW:

Damian Fleming, IPFW Medievalist, Receives Prestigious Mellon, NEH Awards for Research

(October 2, 2015) — Damian Fleming, medieval scholar and associate professor in the Department of English and Linguistics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), recently received two highly competitive and prestigious awards, both tied to his single scholarly project “Hebrew Alphabets in Early Medieval Latin Manuscripts.”

Fleming received the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography, awarded for three years. RBS-Mellon Fellows receive advanced, intensive training in the analysis of textual artifacts. Led by a distinguished faculty drawn from the bibliographical community and professionals in allied fields, fellows attend annual research-oriented seminars at Rare Book School (RBS) and at major special collections libraries nationwide. Fellows receive stipends to support research-related travel to special collections and additional funds to host academic symposia at their home institutions.

“It is our hope that these RBS-Mellon Fellows will acquire new bibliographical and book-historical methods for their own research and teaching,” said RBS Director Michael F. Suarez, S.J. “We also expect that they will greatly enrich our program, introducing valuable insights and enlightening perspectives from their respective disciplines.”

In addition, Fleming was awarded a Summer Stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which provides awards for individuals to pursue scholarly work in the humanities during the summer.

“Both of these prestigious awards give me the opportunity to develop the highly specialized skills necessary for my research, which involves reading and analyzing 1,000-year old manuscripts,” said Fleming.

Fleming had a fruitful summer utilizing the scholarships to present academic papers at two international conferences—the Early Book Society in Oxford and Voices and Books at Newcastle University—culminating with research at the world-renowned Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

“On a hunch, I requested and was granted special access to a particularly rare medieval manuscript,” said Fleming. “The curator of manuscripts at the Bodleian did not think I would discover anything of particular note, but I am happy to say he was mistaken. I discovered the oldest example of pseudo-Hebrew in an Anglo-Saxon manuscript. Because of the age and fragility of this particular manuscript, I was only able to examine it and thus make the discovery by visiting Oxford in person.”

Because of the awards, Fleming has met with librarians from some of the most important institutions in the world, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, The University of London, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, The New York Public Library, and The Morgan Library.

Fleming’s research will continue with publication and additional conference opportunities along with sharing his findings with faculty and students at IPFW. Fleming will give a presentation about this summer research titled “Lurking in the Archives: Unexpected Hebrew in the Bodleian Library, Oxford” for the Anthropology Club Luncheon Lecture series October 28 at noon in Kettler Hall, Room G46.

“My research findings will contribute to a growing body of evidence showing that that Christians of western Europe were interested in the study of biblical Hebrew long before the Renaissance,” said Fleming. “Both grants have afforded me the opportunity to introduce these materials and findings to a wide interdisciplinary humanities audience.”


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