Ifft Decker Receives International Book Award for Work About Jewish and Christian Women in Medieval Mediterranean

image of Sarah Ifft Decker standing outside on the Rhodes College campus

A book by Dr. Sarah Ifft Decker, assistant professor of history at Rhodes College, has been recognized with the La corónica International Book Award for best monograph on medieval Iberian literatures, languages, and cultures. The book titled The Fruit of Her Hands: Jewish and Christian Women's Work in Medieval Catalan Cities was published in 2022 by Pennsylvania State University.

This major award recently was announced at the International Congress on Medieval Studies held in Kalamazoo, MI. The Fruit of Her Hands explores how gender and religious identity intertwined to shape the labor options available to Jewish and Christian women in the medieval Mediterranean.

According to the book’s description: “Sarah Ifft Decker draws on thousands of notarial contracts as well as legal codes, urban ordinances, and Hebrew responsa literature to explore the lived experiences of Jewish and Christian women in the cities of Barcelona, Girona, and Vic between 1250 and 1350. Relying on an expanded definition of women’s work that includes the management of household resources as well as wage labor and artisanal production, this study highlights the crucial contributions women made both to their families and to urban economies . . . Through its attention to the distinct experiences of Jewish and Christian women, The Fruit of Her Hands advances our understanding of Jewish acculturation in the Iberian Peninsula and the shared experiences of women of different faiths. It will be welcomed by specialists in gender studies and religious studies as well as students and scholars of medieval Iberia.”

Ifft Decker—who has expertise in medieval Europe, Jewish history, and women and gender—is the host of Media-eval: A Medieval Pop Culture Podcast. She also is the author of Jewish Women in the Medieval World: 500-1500 CE.

A member of the Rhodes faculty since 2020, Ifft Decker teaches a wide array of courses on the global Middle Ages, many of which encompass both Europe and the Middle East and incorporate the lived experiences of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.