Joel Kaye, professor of history, will be awarded the 2017 Haskins Medal for his latest book, A History of Balance, 1250 – 1375: The Emergence of a New Model of Equilibrium and Its Impact on Thought, by the Medieval Academy of America. This award is presented annually to a single book, recognized by the Academy as a “distinguished publication in the field of medieval studies.”
Prof. Kaye's book examines an important shift in the modeling of balance that occurred within four intellectual disciplines over the period 1280-1360: economic thought, medical theory, political theory, and the philosophy of nature. It traces the sources of this remodeling to socio-economic, institutional, and intellectual factors, showing the ways in which they intersected to produce the new model. Always more a tacit "sense" than a formulated idea, balance moved from being identified with 1:1 equalization to a much more fluid vision of dynamic equilibrium, self-generated by the interaction of multiple moving parts within an overarching system. Given the centrality of the ideal of balance to virtually every intellectual discipline in this period, the shift in the modeling of balance from a basis in a fixed hierarchical plan to a base in the dynamism of systematic activity made possible a profound rethinking of the world and its workings.
Associate Provost Patricia Denison applauded this recognition. "As recipient of the prestigious Haskins Medal, Joel Kaye joins an eminent group of medieval studies scholars," she said. "The award brings recognition to his fascinating, multi-faceted historical inquiry.”
In addition to receiving the Haskins Medal, A History of Balance was also awarded the 2015 Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History by the American Philosophical Society. Prof. Kaye’s previous book, Economy and Nature in the Fourteenth Century: Money, Market Exchange, and the Emergence of Scientific Thought, earned the John Nicholas Brown Prize from the Medieval Academy of America as the best first book by an author in medieval studies.
His previous research and scholarship have been supported by the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies; the New York Public Library's Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers; the National Science Foundation; and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Prof. Kaye will be presented with the 2017 Haskins Medal during the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy at the University of Toronto from April 6-8.
Photo: The Haskins Medal. The Medieval Academy of America