Lester receives NEH 2020-2021 Fellowship

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Anne E. Lester was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for the 2020-2021 year. She will be on research leave in the Spring and Fall semesters of 2021 to complete her book Fragments of Devotion: Relics and Remembrance in the Aftermath of the Fourth Crusade, 1204-1264. The project draws on an array of archival texts, letters, inventories, manuscripts and material objects, to trace the reception and transformative effects of hundreds of relics carried from Byzantium into northern France, Flanders and Germany in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade (1204). The book elucidates how relics were used to tell and retell many different histories, evoking through their materiality ineffable ideas and associations, while embodying the transformation of capital, power, and royal ideology. Methodologically, Fragments of Devotion demonstrates the powerful challenge that materiality poses to traditional narrative accounts of the crusades and past experiences more broadly. Collections of relics, and the texts, spaces, and individuals that framed them and gave them meaning, offer another kind of archive, one that opens up a richer accounting of the experiences of war and loss, encounter and cultural appropriation, divine presence and commemoration.