PRHS and History Professors awarded Major Research Fellowships

Image of the Parkinson Building at night.

Professors Gregory Radick (Philosophy, Religion and History of Science) and Graham Loud (History) have been awarded Fellowships by the Leverhulme Trust.

The Leverhulme Trust is one of the largest all-subject providers of grants and scholarships for research and education in the UK. Its funding supports original research that advances mankind's knowledge of itself and the wider world, and it is known for a responsive approach, which allows applicants to choose the topic and design of their research. Its Major Research Fellowships allow academics in the humanities and social sciences to undertake a specific piece of original research by funding research activity expenses and assistance in fulfilling other commitments.

Disputed Inheritance: The Battle over Mendel and the Future of Biology - Professor Gregory Radick

After the rediscovery in 1900 of Gregor Mendel's work with hybrid peas, biologists debated the importance of that work for understanding inheritance. The Mendelians won the debate, and the entity that they credited Mendel with discovering, the gene, has been part of textbook biology ever since. Drawing on a decade of original research, including a novel experiment in the teaching of genetics, this project will see Professor Radick complete a major book explaining not only why Mendelism triumphed but why, had the debate gone differently, biology might have taken a more productive path, and how that alternative past can guide valuable change today.

The Social World of the Abbey of Cava, c. 1020-1300 - Professor Graham Loud

This project will focus on the abbey of S. Trinità, Cava, which was founded around 1020 AD and developed into the wealthiest and most important monastic house in the medieval principality of Salerno (which comprised most of the southern Campania). It has been continuously active since its establishment, and is home to the largest archive to survive in southern Italy from the Middle Ages, containing over 7000 documents from before 1300, the great majority of which are original charters on parchment. As such, the archive presents the chance to form an in-depth picture of how a local society worked which has few, if any, parallels in the Middle Ages, yet only a relatively small part of this rich heritage has been published.

Professor Loud has been using the archive for more than 30 years, and possesses an unrivalled knowledge of the contents and possibilities of this extraordinary resource. He aims to produce a history of the abbey’s development and of its relations with its benefactors, neighbours and tenants, as well as a social history of the principality of Salerno in the central Middle Ages. This will encompass on local society of a rising population, an expanding economy, and significant political change; particularly the successive conquests of southern Italy by the Normans in the eleventh century, the German Emperor Henry VI in 1194, and Charles of Anjou and his French troops in 1266. It will also examine the workings of the agrarian economy, the impact upon it of weather and the environment, the development of the town of Salerno as an urban centre and market economy, and the legal status and obligations of the abbey’s peasant tenants.