2015 Eleanor Tufts Book Award Winner

Letizia Osti's picture

2015 Eleanor Tufts Book Award Winner
 

This year’s committee received an unprecedented 22 entries that all merit high praise for
their contributions to the history of art and architecture in Iberia. As a committee, we
unanimously voted Glaire Anderson’s The Islamic Villa in Early Medieval Iberia: Architecture
and Court Culture in Umayyad Córdoba
the winner of the 2015 Eleanor Tufts Book Award.
Anderson’s book, which examines the aristocratic villas and court culture of Córdoba
during the Umayyad dynasty, is unique in several respects. A deeply synthetic study, it draws on
a wide range of material including - but not limited to - medieval Arabic texts, ivory carving,
agricultural treatises, and archaeological findings to shed light on this important facet of
Umayyad architectural patronage. As well as reconstructing the Islamic villa as an architectural
entity, Anderson’s book presents it fully within a rich social and political context; considerations
of decor, ceremony, and agricultural productivity are key to the study. Of particular importance
is Anderson’s nuanced analysis of the villa’s patronage, which fell to members of the “unfree
elite.” A major theme of the book is its recognition that the munyas of Umayyad Córdoba belong
to the long tradition of Mediterranean villas which began in the Roman era and continued in
Christian European and New World locales.
This publication met and surpassed the stipulated award criteria of “originality of
conception, thoroughness of research, rigor of argument, brilliance of insight, significance of
findings, and clarity of expression.” Although the book will engage and satisfy specialists in
Islamic art and architecture, Anderson’s clear prose makes it accessible and valuable to anyone
with an interest in a host of related fields.
Respectfully,
The 2015 Eleanor Tufts Book Award Committee
Julie Harris (Committee Chairperson)
Adjunct Faculty
Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
Chicago, IL
Felipe Pereda
Nancy H. and Robert E. Hall Professor of the Humanities
Department of the History of Art
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD
Tara Zanardi
Assistant Professor of Art History
Department of Art and Art History
Hunter College
New York, NY