Prof’s book about medieval miracles wins history prize

The Canadian Society of Medievalists have awarded the 2012 Margaret Wade Labarge Prize for Books in Medieval Studies published in 2011 to York history Professor Rachel Koopmans book, Wonderful to Relate: Miracle Stories and Miracle BookWonderfultoRelateCollecting in High Medieval England.

Wonderful to Relate: Miracle Stories and Miracle Collecting in High Medieval England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011) looks at 11th and 12th century monastic writers penchant for preserving 100s of stories about healings, acts of vengeance, resurrections, recoveries and other miraculous deeds effected by local saints. This period of miracle recording marked a shift from the late Anglo-Saxons who rarely made not of saints’ posthumous miracles.

In her book, Koopmans, a professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, focuses on two collections, one recorded by Benedict of Peterborough, the other by William of Canterbury in the wake of the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170.

The awarding committee called Koopmans’ book “a beautifully-written, deeply-researched, and substantial contribution to the study of the literature of high medieval England. The monograph provides a detailed and lucid account of the monastic collection of miracle stories between 1080 and 1220 in England. It aims to create ‘a literary history’ of English miracle collecting – of its rise to the levels of what Koopmans RachelKoopmanscalls a ‘craze,’ as well as of its decline. The monograph is written in an exceptionally graceful style.”

Rachel Koopmans

The committee also noted that “Snippets from the miracle stories themselves appear from time to time, attracting and engaging readers who are then neatly shown how those individual moments fit into the vast narrative of miracle collecting being developed…Koopmans’s copious notes, appendices, maps, and extensive bibliography make clear how much sheer data and detail underlie the discussion.”

For more information, visit the Canadian Society of Medievalists website or read the Dec. 21, 2010 YFile article.