Book Award

Marcia Kupfer's Art and Optics in the Hereford Map: An English Mappa Mundi, c. 1300 (Yale, 2016) received the 2018 book prize from the Historians of British Art for exemplary scholarship on the period before 1800. The citation reads: "Marcia Kupfer provides a bold interpretation of a canonical work of medieval art: a monumental mappa mundi (world map) created for Hereford Cathedral around 1300. Through a stunning emphasis on the visual and a deep understanding of historical and religious contexts, she overturns existing accounts that view the map as the result of poor workmanship and clerical errors. Instead, she reveals that the map is a carefully constructed image of Salvation History, one that also considers the latest scientific thinking on optics and vision. The book builds upon the current scholarly interest in mapping and space, but does so in a way that brings these concerns back to the visual and the ways in which vision itself operated in this period, creating a fascinating dialogue between medieval theology, science, and artistic convention."