Historian Wins Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Studies Book Publication Award

LAWRENCE — Luis Corteguera, associate professor of history, has won the 2012 Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies Book Publication Award for his upcoming publication, "Death by Effigy: A Case from the Mexican Inquisition," to be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. The annual award is administered by the Hall Center for the Humanities.

The book centers on a scandal that took place in 1578 in the Mexican town of Tecamachalco, when a doll-like effigy appeared hanging from the door of the town’s church, adorned with signs and symbols and hung above firewood. Taken together, the effigy, signs and symbols conveyed a deadly message: the victim of the scandal was a Jew who should burn at the stake. Ordinary men and women were capable of appropriating these symbols of the Inquisition for their own deadly purposes, and the relentless pursuit of the authors of the scandal alerts us to the extent to which the Inquisition’s political mission required defending its symbols.

Corteguera’s study traces the four years during which inquisitors conducted nine trials and interrogated dozens of witnesses, who revealed a vivid portrait of friendship, love and hatred in a Mexican colonial town. A story of dishonor and revenge, "Death by Effigy" reveals the power and susceptibility of the Inquisition’s symbols.

The University of Kansas Office of Research & Graduate Studies sponsors the Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Studies Book Publication Award. It is intended to assist in the publication of meritorious book manuscripts resulting from humanities research by KU faculty members.

The Friends of the Hall Center provide support for a second faculty publication. Professor of English Doreen Fowler received the Friends Book Publication Award for "Drawing the Line: Boundary Negotiation in Faulkner, Wright, O'Connor, and Morrison." Boundaries distinguish identities, but how do they perform this differentiating function? The widely accepted notion of boundary-setting is that boundaries differentiate by excluding. The forthcoming book offers a more nuanced model of psychoanalytic boundary formation, arguing that a boundary is common ground, a site that is both the one thing and the other, and that boundary-formation always involves mediation.

Fowler’s work applies this model to literary texts and to American cultural history, illustrating both the way psychoanalytic theory can be used to interpret fiction and cultural history, as well as the ways that literature and history can reshape theory.

The additional publication award is made possible by the Friends of the Hall Center, an organization of faculty, community members, and students who support the Center’s programs.