URI history professor receives academic award from French government

Joëlle Rollo-Koster expert in medieval history

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Joëlle Rollo-Koster, a professor of medieval history at the University of Rhode Island received an international honor from the French government for her research and writings. Photo by Michael Salerno Photography.

KINGSTON, R.I., Nov. 29, 2016—Joëlle Rollo-Koster, a history professor at the University of Rhode Island and a renowned medieval scholar, has received an international honor from the French government for her research and writings.

Rollo-Koster, who lives in South Kingstown, has been named a Chevalier (or knight) of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques. The award recognizes her outstanding academic research in French history.

The Consulate General of France in Boston will present the award to Rollo-Koster during a ceremony from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6 at Ranger Hall, 10 Ranger Road, on the Kingston campus. A reception will follow.

“I’m delighted to be recognized by my home country,’’ says Rollo-Koster. “I’ve worked hard at sharing the history and culture of France with my students and readers. It’s a pleasure and extremely fulfilling to do something I love every day.’’

Born and raised in Toulon on the southern Mediterranean coast, Rollo-Koster joined URI as an assistant professor in 1996, becoming a full professor in 2007.

She received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in history from the University of Nice, France, and her doctorate from the State University of New York, Binghamton, focusing on the social and demographic history of the papal city of Avignon, capital of Christianity between 1309 and 1378.

Her expertise is in the social and cultural life of the late European Middle Ages, from the 1300s to the 1420s. She studies social and cultural behaviors, including death, politics, marriage, religious views and day-to-day life. She is recognized worldwide for her scholarship on the city of Avignon and its papacy.

Rollo-Koster is the author of seven books, including Avignon and Its Papacy, 1309-1417, Popes, Institutions and Society; Death in Medieval Europe: Death Scripted and Death Choreographed; Raiding Saint Peter: Empty Sees, Violence and the Initiation of the Great Western Schism; and The People of Curial Avignon.

“Joëlle Rollo-Koster is a distinguished scholar of medieval history and is recognized for her exemplary teaching and scholarship that addresses French history and culture,’’ say Winifred Brownell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “We are indeed fortunate to have her on the faculty at the University of Rhode Island.’’

Napoleon I created the award as an honorary title to recognize members of the University in 1808. Later, the award was extended to foreigners and French people living abroad who have contributed to French education and culture. Rollo-Koster, who will receive a medal for her accomplishments, is among a notable group. Other recipients include Joseph S. Nye, Jr., former dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and Francis L. Lawrence, former president of Rutgers University.