Sharon Farmer, a longtime UCSB history professor, was one of a prestigious few in the nation who received the Guggenheim Award last week.
Farmer was awarded a $37,000 stipend and is one of 186 artists, scholars and scientists from the United States and Canada to receive the 2005 Guggenheim fellowship. Farmer said she will use the stipend to continue her research on medieval European colonization of the Muslim world.
“My research is based in the 13th and 14th century and I am interested in the ways in which people in Paris were first importing luxury goods from the Muslim world,” Farmer said. “It’s interesting because it’s the period of the Crusades and there was this kind of desire to like the Muslims, even though the propaganda was disdainful toward the Muslim world at that time.”
Farmer said she began researching medieval European colonization in the Muslim world four years ago after the events of Sept. 11 sparked her interest in the history of relations between Muslims and the West.
“Since 9/11, I have really changed the direction of my work,” Farmer said. “After 9/11, I have been planning on writing a book about religious women in Paris – it was a response to our response to 9/11.”
The Guggenheim Award is given to scholars who have shown distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for the future. Awards are given to specialists in several fields, from the liberal arts to advanced sciences.
Farmer holds a doctorate in medieval history from Harvard University and has been a professor at UCSB since 1986. She has written two books, Surviving Poverty in Medieval Paris: Gender, Ideology, and the Daily Lives of the Poor, published in 2002 and Communities of St. Martin: Legend and Ritual in Medieval Tours published in 1991.
In December of 2004, Farmer received the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a $40,000 award to continue her research. Farmer said her two fellowships will allow her to take some time off to concentrate on her research. She said she will be using the NEH award for a sabbatical leave during the 2005-2006 academic year, and the Guggenheim for a sabbatical leave during the 2007-2008 academic year.
Between teaching undergraduates, committee work, extensive research and raising a family as a single parent, Farmer said it has been difficult managing her time.
“Everyone has trouble balancing time,” Farmer said. “The outside of all that is that your research makes your teaching better and your teaching makes your research better.”