History prize for Birkbeck's champion

Dr Matthew Champion has been awarded the Royal History Society's Gladstone Prize.

Birkbeck’s Dr Matthew Champion has been honoured with a major historical award, the Gladstone Prize, for his book The Fullness of Time: Temporalities of the Fifteenth-Century Low Countries.

Judges called the book “a dazzling tour de force” as they chose it from a shortlist of five to receive the £1,000 prize, awarded by the Royal Historical Society.

The Gladstone is given to a solely-written first book published in the UK on a historical subject which is not primarily about British history.

Matthew, from the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, examined changing concepts of time for different sectors of society in the Low Countries (modern Belgium, the Netherlands, and northern France) looking at the way objects, texts and music have variously been affected by, and had an effect on, approaches to time. The Fullness of Time was published in November 2017 by Chicago University Press. 

He said: "I am really delighted to be awarded this prize, and would like to thank my brilliant students and colleagues in Birkbeck HCA for all their support for this project. Time really matters, and thinking about the ways it is changed by human action in history is a pressing question for the present."

In their citation, judges said of the book: “It investigates the notions of both 'time' and 'fullness'; connecting the emotional and affective significances of time with its structuring functions. Instead of the traditional narrative of "merchant mechanical time' usurping that of 'religious sacred time', the book demonstrates how developments in time-keeping were incorporated into devotions and liturgy.

“The way that the mysteries of time unfold and are opened up to the reader makes it feel as if another world is being unlocked. Its transdisciplinary approach allows for the blended use of multiple source types including art, architecture, image, sound, print, text and ritual facilitating an immersion in the fifteenth century sensory and cultural world. The text brooks no concessions in terms of its scholarly rigour and references, yet the clarity and flow of the style tum it into a pleasurable read to which all the judges kept wanting to return.”

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