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Maureen Miller's Introduction for Teo Ruiz's Plenary MAA2020
On behalf of the Program Committee, it is a joy and an honor to introduce our MAA2020 Fellow's Plenary speaker, Teo Ruiz.

Born in Cuba, Teo came to the United States as an immigrant.  He had supported the revolution against dictator Fulgencio Batista, ended up imprisoned in 1961, and when released he headed first to Miami and then to New York City.  Working by day in the Continental Can factory, he attended the City College of New York at night.  This was where his love of the Middle Ages was rekindled, setting him off on a scholarly odyssey that took him to Princeton for doctoral work under Joseph Strayer, and then on to more than four decades of teaching in institutions of public higher education, first at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and then at the University of California, Los Angeles.  

A distinguished and beloved teacher, Teo is also an extraordinary scholar who combines the gifts of a master storyteller with the archival historian's love of parchment-scribbled details and the true humanist's focus on big questions.  A historian of late medieval and early modern Spain, he has published a series of brilliant monographs on the social history of Iberia — my favorite being From Heaven to Earth: The Reordering of Castilian Society in the Late Middle Ages, 1150-1340.  Teo's deep interest in medieval Spanish popular culture has bubbled forth in numerous articles, culminating in his 2012 book A King's Travels: Festivals, Spectacles, and Power in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain.  He has also contributed to thinking about our period in a global perspective: his 2018 book The Western Mediterranean and the World was published in the Blackwell History of the World series edited by R. I. Moore.  His many contributions to scholarship and learning were recognized with the National Humanities Medal, bestowed upon him by President Barack Obama in 2011, and with his election in 2013 both to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and to the Fellows of the Medieval Academy of America.  With great affection and admiration, I invite you to listen closely to Teo Ruiz, UCLA Distinguished Professor and Robert & Dorothy Wellman Chair in Medieval History, as he tells us of Two Families and One Artist on the Eve of the Expulsion: Jews, Conversos, Foreigners, and Muslims Living in Avila, 1440s-1492.

            Maureen C. Miller, Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley
            and Co-Chair, Program Committee for the 95th Annual Meeting of the
            Medieval Academy of America, March 2020

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