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Winbury Essay Award Winners Leigh Daniel and Sarah Mathiesen

Published April 5, 2021

The Art History Association is pleased to announce that Leigh Daniel and Sarah Mathiesen have been selected by their peers as the 2021 winners of the I. N. Winbury Award. The award, which includes a $200 stipend for book purchases, is presented annually to one MA student and one PhD student. Academic papers are submitted for consideration to the graduate student organization, which arranges for a panel of doctoral students to judge the MA papers and a panel of MA students to judge the doctoral papers.


In her paper, “Early Modern Fears: Depictions of Amazons in Sir Walter Raleigh’s Discoverie,” MA student Leigh Daniel examines two engravings of fictitious Amazon women in Sir Walter Raleigh’s travel account to Guiana titled, The Discoverie of the Large, Rich, and Beautiful Guiana. Her study explores Early Modern patriarchal anxieties in English society and gender roles and expectations of the time, framing her analysis. She argues that the purpose of including the imagery of Amazons was to evoke fear and serve as a cautionary tale to Early Modern English society about the perceived moral and societal degradation that would occur if women became too independent.

Doctoral student Sarah Mathiesen’s paper, “Romanos I Lekapenos and the ‘Image’ of the Lekapenid Dynasty: Imitations and Reactions,” examines the characterization of the Byzantine Emperors Romanos I Lekapenos (r. 920-944) and Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (r. 913-959) in Byzantine and secondary sources. As co-emperors, the two are inextricably tied together, however, both Byzantine texts of the period and scholarship center Constantine over the “interloper” Romanos. As such, the visual and material culture of Romanos I Lekapenos and the Lekapenid family has never been considered on its own merits. Using the framing device of “rhythms of imperial renewal,” Sarah contributes a new art historical perspective on Romanos’s reign. Her study centers the Lekapenid emperor and brings together a variety of material and visual culture produced under his rule as evidence of both his legitimacy and as an attempt to build a dynasty distinct from that of the Macedonian, of which Constantine VII was a member. The second half of the paper recontextualizes much of Constantine VII’s later activity as directly, and pointedly, reactive against Romanos’ dynastic aspirations and as an effort to reassert the Macedonian claim to the Byzantine imperial office. 

Congratulations to Leigh and Sarah on being recognized for the high caliber of their research and writing! The Art History Association thanks everyone who submitted papers and participated in the judging this year.