St Andrews professors elected Fellows of the British Academy

Friday 22 July 2022

St Andrews academics Andrew Peacock, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic History at the School of History, and Kathryn Rudy, Professor in the School of Art History, have achieved the rare distinction of being elected Fellows of the British Academy.

This year a total of 85 Fellows – 52 UK Fellows, 29 Corresponding Fellows and four Honorary Fellows – have been elected to the Fellowship.

Professor Andrew Peacock is Director of Research in the School of History and specialises in the history and culture of the premodern Islamic world, in particular Turkey, Iran, and Central and Southeast Asia. He studied Arabic and Persian at the University of Oxford before earning his PhD from the University of Cambridge, and has subsequently held positions in Cambridge, Ankara, Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur as well as St Andrews.

Professor Andrew Peacock is an expert in Middle Eastern and Islamic History at the School of History

Professor Peacock’s research draws on sources in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Malay, and between 2012 and 2017 he directed a major research project on ‘The Islamisation of Anatolia, c. 1100-1500’ funded by the European Research Council. He is currently researching the Arabic literary heritage of Southeast Asia. Recent publications include The Great Seljuk Empire (2015) and Islam, Literature and Society in Mongol Anatolia (2019); in total, he has authored or edited 14 books and more than 50 articles.

On receiving Fellowship of the British Academy, Andrew said: “I am deeply honoured to be elected to the Fellowship of the Academy. I am very pleased that the enduring importance of the study of the history, languages and cultures of the pre-modern Islamic world has been recognised in this way.”

Professor Kathryn (Kate) Rudy worked her way through Cornell University as a housekeeper, cocktail waitress, and maths tutor. This allowed her to study materials engineering, English literature, and art history. She then went on to earn a PhD in Art History from Columbia University and a Licentiate in Mediaeval Studies from the University of Toronto. Prior to taking up her post at St Andrews in 2011, she held research, teaching and curatorial positions in the US, the UK, Canada, The Netherlands, and Belgium.

The author of six books, with two more in press, Professor Rudy’s research concentrates on the reception and original function of manuscripts, especially those manufactured in the Low Countries, and she has pioneered the use of the densitometer to measure the grime that original readers deposited in their books. One of her forthcoming books is about how medieval people rubbed, touched, and kissed manuscripts, and she is currently analysing blood stains in medieval surgical manuscripts.

With PI Professor Sue Healy (biology) and composer Dr Emily Doolittle (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), she will take up an APEX award to study creativity and the nature of inventiveness. Professor Rudy is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s National Academy. In 2019 she was awarded the Sir Walter Scott Medal, the senior prize in arts, humanities and social sciences in Scotland. In April 2021 she was elected Curator of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Together with Professor Emma Smith she co-curated an exhibition titled Sensational Books at the Bodleian (Oxford), which is on through December.

Professor Kate Rudy from the School of Art History

In her spare time, she weaves on antique looms, drives race cars, and spends time with her dog Ginsburg. Her next goals are to perform stand-up comedy and to complete a second PhD (in economics).

On receiving Fellowship of the British Academy, Kate said: “I am honoured that the Fellows have elected me to join their ranks. I’d like to use my fellowship to promote the benefits of combining ideas from non-adjacent disciplines, such as hands-on craft knowledge plus political science, or materials science plus theatre. Real innovation lies along these boundaries.”

Founded in 1902, the British Academy is the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences. It is a Fellowship of over 1600 of the leading minds in these subjects from the UK and overseas. Current Fellows include the classicist Professor Dame Mary Beard, the historian Professor Sir Simon Schama and philosopher Professor Baroness Onora O’Neill, while previous Fellows include Dame Frances Yates, Sir Winston Churchill, Seamus Heaney and Beatrice Webb. The Academy is also a funding body for research, nationally and internationally, and a forum for debate and engagement.  

Welcoming Professor Peacock and Professor Rudy into the British Academy, President Professor Julia Black said: “I am delighted to welcome these distinguished and pioneering scholars to our Fellowship. I am equally delighted that we have so many new female Fellows. While I hope this means that the tide is finally turning for women in academia, there is still much to do to make the research world diverse and open to all. 

“With our new Fellows’ expertise and insights, the Academy is better placed than ever to open new seams of knowledge and understanding and to enhance the wellbeing and prosperity of societies around the world. I congratulate each of our new Fellows on their achievement and look forward to working with them.” 

Full details of the Fellows elected by the British Academy are available on the Academy website.

The British Academy is the voice of the humanities and social sciences. The Academy is an independent fellowship of world-leading scholars and researchers; a funding body for research, nationally and internationally; and a forum for debate and engagement.

Issued by the UIniversity of St Andrews Comunications Office.

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