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Distinguished scholar wins Grundler Prize

May 18, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University has awarded the prestigious Grundler Prize to a noted academic and theoretical scholar for her book "Wonderful Blood: Theology and Practice in Late Medieval Northern Germany and Beyond."

The prize was awarded during the 44th International Congress on Medieval Studies, held May 7-10. It was presented to Dr. Caroline Walker Bynum, professor of Western European Middle Ages at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. Bynum argues in her book that Christ's blood, as both object and symbol, was central to late medieval art, literature, pious practice and theology.

The WMU Medieval Institute organizes the on-campus congress, which is one of the world's largest annual gatherings of scholars and others interested in the Middle Ages. The Grundler Prize was established to honor the late Otto Grundler, a longtime former director of the institute.

"Wonderful Blood," published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2007, received the American Academy of Religion's 2007 Award for Excellence in the Historical Studies category. It examines the saving power attributed to Christ's blood at north German cult sites, the theological controversy such sites generated, and the hundreds of devotional paintings, poems and prayers dedicated to Christ's wounds, scourging and bloody crucifixion.

Bynum, who earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in 1962 and a doctoral degree from Harvard in 1969, researches the social, cultural and intellectual history of Europe from the early Middle Ages to the early modern period. Her many books have created the paradigm for the study of women's piety that dominates the field of medieval studies today.

A MacArthur Fellow and past president of the American Historical Association, Bynum previously taught at Harvard and Columbia universities and the University of Washington. In 2003 she joined the faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study., a private academic institution that is one of the world's leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry.

Visit the University of Pennsylvania Press online for more information about Bynum and her book.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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