Since 2012, the James Kaye Memorial Prize is awarded every two years to the best EUI thesis combining the study of historical and visual sources. The crossroads of ‘History and Visuality’ is a growing interdisciplinary area that EUI researcher James Kaye was keen on exploring. The prize exists today thanks to the generosity of James’ family and friends, who wanted to honour his memory by paying tribute to his work and passions, particularly his interest in the intersection of history and art.
Elena Maria Rita Rizzi defended her thesis Modern art and the making of a French republican imaginary, 1919-1940 at the History Department in February 2021. “I think that the understanding of artistic creation is central to the study of history”, she explained, adding that she believes historians “should not restrain from enriching their ‘craft’ by listening to, reading and looking at the silence of images.”
Rizzi shared feeling “thrilled” and honoured upon learning about her nomination for the award, a result that is especially gratifying, considering that she dedicated a significant part of her time at the EUI reflecting on visual representations for the writing of history. To this end, she expressed feeling grateful to the meetings and conversations she had with colleagues and members of the EUI Visual and Material History Working Group for nurturing her interest in this research area during her PhD studies.
This prize is an encouragement, she said, to continue her reflection on the political meanings of artistic creation, “without forgetting to leave a door open for the possibility that some sparks of poetry may illuminate our historical research as well as our present.”
The 2022 prize was also awarded to Bohdan Shumylovych, who expressed feeling “happy and honoured” to being nominated. His thesis, Mediating the land, landing the media Soviet Ukrainian television and popular media culture, 1957-1989 deals with the history of media, and particularly a very visual one such as television.
Since defending his thesis in May 2020, Shumylovych’s interest in the field of visual studies remained very much alive. Notably, he prepared a course on “How to Understand and Read Visual Media” (in Ukrainian) at the Center for Urban History in L’viv and is currently teaching and carrying out research on the subject at the Ukrainian Catholic University. Looking back at these accomplishments, he shared that the prize motivates him to think that the “endeavour that started seven years ago has a positive continuation.”
In receiving their nomination, both winners extend their sincere thanks to James Kaye’s family and friends, to the selection committee and to the EUI History Department.