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Justin Kirkland awarded Judith Popovich Aikin Award


Congratulations to History PhD candidate Justin Kirkland.  He was one of two PhD students awarded the Judith Popvich Aikin Award by the University of Iowa Committee of the Newberry Library Renaissance Consortium last week.  The award is $1,500 and allows him to make an extended visit at the Newberry Library in Chicago to use the archives for his studies. This award was named after former College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean and Professor of German, Judith Aikin.

Justin's research examines the relationship between the formal canon law and informal legal works using canon law books and confessors’ manuals. In the Middle Ages, the canon law consisted of the authoritative texts written in the 12th to 14th centuries. These sources constituted all of the Church’s official laws (the Corpus Iuris Canonici). Confessors’ manuals emerged in the late 13th century to assist less-educated village priests with their pastoral duties, especially those concerning confession. They were essentially pastoral works that combined the essentials of canon law and theology. Historians have traditionally seen the manuals as an example of how the abstract legal ideas of the canonists trickled down to inform village priests. Yet there is some evidence which indicates that the relationship between canon law books and confessors’ manuals were not a one-sided affair. Analysis of more canon law manuscripts, including those in the Newberry Library, is necessary to ascertain just how widespread this practice was. If it was a common practice, then it would suggest that confessors’ manuals played an integral role in how canonists interpreted canon law.

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