Photo of Alison Altstatt


The University of Northern Iowa is pleased to announce that Alison Altstatt, associate professor in the UNI School of Music, has received a $6,000 summer research stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

These funds will be used to support Altstatt’s book project, “Wilton Abbey in Procession,” a musicological study of “Wilton processional,” a long-lost, thirteenth-century music manuscript from Wilton Abbey in England, famed for its Latin learning and its girls’ school. Altstatt first identified a leaf of the missing manuscript in the University of Iowa Special Collections in 2015, and has since been working to reassemble fragments of the manuscript now held in over 30 collections.

Altstatt said her book will shine a light on the rituals, music and lives of medieval women, who have often been overlooked in scholarship.

“This project is a case study in the intellectual and artistic culture of women in the Middle Ages, whose lives are poorly documented and who historically have been overlooked,” she said. “Wilton Abbey was a famed institution, but much  of what was written about the abbey and its nuns was from the perspective of male witnesses or historians. By studying this manuscript, we can balance the narrative and give accounts of the music and rituals these women performed, through their own original texts and music.”

The summer research stipend will allow Altstatt to work on her book full-time for one summer in order to meet her 2022 publishing date. Altstatt’s work will be published in the series Exeter Studies in Medieval Europe, published by Liverpool University Press.

This interdisciplinary study will make a significant contribution to the humanities, specifically in the fields of musicology, liturgy, history, literature, drama and manuscript studies.

Altstatt said she’s grateful for the support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as support she’s received from the UNI College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences, the Graduate College, the Office of the Provost and the UNI School of Music.

“This has been an exciting collaborative project that has brought together scholars, musicologists and art historians from around the globe,” she said. “I’m grateful for all of the support I’ve received, and I’m looking forward to continuing this work.”