Fulbright powers art historian

Faculty member will travel to Spain to research medieval capital

| Author: University Communications

Central Michigan University's Scott de Brestian is bound for northern Spain in the spring, courtesy of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.

But in a sense, he's already there as he virtually catalogs medieval structures and researches medieval cities from here in the U.S.

Scott de Brestian

De Brestian, an art history faculty member in the Art and Design department, earned the Fulbright award in art history for the 2020-2021 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Currently on sabbatical from CMU, he will be a visiting scholar at the Universidad de Burgos in Burgos, Spain, advancing research with a University of Arizona colleague. His journey is planned March 1-July 15.

Their project documents the architecture, history and archaeological remains of the medieval city of Nájera, Spain, once the capital of the Kingdom of Navarre and later a center of religious power and patronage. It also includes a study of the city's important Jewish community during the Middle Ages before the Jewish population was expelled in 1492. The project began at CMU with the support of Early Career and Faculty Research and Creative Endeavors grants.

"I am very honored to have been selected as a Fulbright Scholar," de Brestian said. "It will allow me to study other Early Medieval kingdoms in Spain and the relationship between rulers and the royal capitals they patronized. I will be able to use this to put the connection between the Kingdom of Navarre and its capital of Nájera within a much larger context."

De Brestian has taken groups of CMU students to Nájera to map its geography and infrastructure for modeling what it might have looked like thousands of years ago.

He and his students also have traveled to the Church of the Assumption in San Vicente del Valle, Spain, to learn more about the transition from the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages. They've photographed artifacts to create computer models that can be studied digitally or 3-D printed on campus using the Makerbot Innovation Center or CNC router or by casting a resin and concrete version.

According to its website, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings and help people and nations work together toward common goals.

De Brestian is one of more than 800 U.S. citizens who will research or teach abroad this academic year through Fulbright awards.

Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 88 Pulitzer Prize recipients and 37 people who have served as a head of state or government.

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