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Prestigious Leverhulme Major Research Fellowships awarded to two Birkbeck academics

The fellowships are granted to well-established, distinguished researchers in the humanities and social sciences.

Anthony Bale to the left and Julia Lovell to the right both smile down the camera

Anthony Bale, Professor of Medieval Studies, and Julia Lovell, Professor of Modern Chinese History and Literature, have been named as recipients of the esteemed Leverhulme Major Research Fellowships. Awarded to only thirty academics in the UK this year, the Fellowship spans a two-to-three-year period and enables recipients to complete a piece of original research.

Professor Bale's research, 'Medieval News Media and the Writing of the Siege of Rhodes (1480)', will explore the rise of 'news' as topical mass media against the backdrop of the Ottoman siege of Rhodes in 1480. The unsuccessful siege lasted from May to August and caused significant panic throughout Latin Europe, resulting in it being one of the first mass media news events across the continent.

Professor Bale intends to explore the way Christian Europe's self-perception of being under Ottoman attack fueled the popularity of topical news. He will also offer a full reappraisal of the historical representation of the Ottomans in the period 1453 to 1522 and produce the first full, scholarly edition of the Middle English text The Siege of Rhodes (1482-3) by King Edward IV's poet laureate, John Kay.

Professor Bale commented: "This research project brings together many of the things I love doing as an academic - recovering forgotten sources and archives, bringing little-studied material to light, and connecting the Middle Ages to the concerns of the present day, in terms of Islamophobia, the borders of Europe, and who controls the news."

Professor Julia Lovell's research project, 'The history and practice of Chinese archaeology, 1900 to the present day', will produce the first English language, book length history of Chinese archaeology. The publication will be organized around analyses of six influential excavations conducted by Chinese archaeologists, both inside and outside China.

The topic extends Professor Lovell's career-long focus on the troubled relationship between modern and contemporary Chinese nation-building, intellectuals, and culture. Valued both for the cultural potency and potential for scientific impartiality of its evidence base, archaeology offers a rich case study for this relationship. Throughout its 120 year history in China, archaeology has highlighted contention between nationalism and the nation-state on the one hand, and individual archaeologists, historians and cultural commentators on the other.

"This will be a transnational as well as a national history," commented Professor Lovell, "in which theories and practices of archaeology from the West have changed, and been changed by, political, intellectual and social developments within China. I hope that by providing the first book-length study of the archaeological discipline in China, the project will generate a guide by which international archaeology can understand the orientations and hypotheses of research in China, thereby facilitating dialogue and collaboration between Chinese and international researchers."

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