Serena Medal

The Serena Medal is awarded annually for eminent services towards the furtherance of the study of Italian history, philosophy or music, literature, art, or economics.

History of the prize

It was endowed by Mr Arthur Serena after Great Britain’s alliance with Italy in the First World War. The medal was first awarded in 1920.


In 2024 eligible nominations are for scholars in Italian History.

In 2025 eligible nominations are for scholars in Italian Philosophy.

How to nominate

Nominations for this award are open from 1 December to 31 January and may only be made by Fellows of the British Academy. Entries should be submitted electronically to [email protected].

In the body of the email, clearly state:

  • Name of the prize or medal
  • Name of nominee
  • Nominee’s position/institution and email address
  • Nominee’s principal area of academic distinction
  • Supporting statement (250 words)
  • Nominator’s name and your British Academy section
  • Declaration of any institutional or personal interest

The deadline for submissions is 31 January each year. Nominations will be reviewed, and the winner selected, by the relevant panel.

If you have any queries submitting a nomination please email [email protected].

2023 winner (Italian Music)

Bonnie J. Blackburn

Dr Bonnie J. Blackburn FBA has been awarded the 2023 Serena Medal, for her outstanding contributions to the study of Italian Renaissance music through the discovery, study and interpretation of musical, theorical and archival sources.

Bonnie J. Blackburn, elected to the British Academy in 2005, is a musicologist specialising in the music and music theory of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. She taught briefly in the United States before moving to the UK in 1990, where she developed a second career as a freelance editor and copy-editor. Much of her scholarly career has been devoted to archival research, beginning in Milan in 1970 and widening to Rome, Venice, Brescia, Mantua, and most recently Modena, where the records of the Este family of Ferrara are located. She gave the Serena Lecture in 2011: ‘Myself when Young: Becoming a Musician in Renaissance Italy—or Not’. Together with Edward Lowinsky and Clement Miller she edited and translated a collection of 110 letters by sixteenth-century Italian music theorists, published as A Correspondence of Renaissance Musicians (Oxford University Press, 1991).

"The awarding of the Serena Medal came as a complete surprise to me, especially since I have not followed an ordinary career path. Perhaps that is why the lives of musicians under difficult circumstances have particularly appealed to me and are traced in numerous of my articles."

- Dr Bonnie J. Blackburn FBA, August 2023.

Previous winners

2022 Professor Zygmunt Barański, University of Cambridge

2021 Professor Lucrezia Reichlin FBA, London Business School

2020 Professor Jill Kraye, University of London and the Warburg Institute

2019 Professor John Foot, University of Bristol

2018 Professor Roger Parker, King's College London

2017 Professor Martin McLaughlin, University of Oxford

2016  Professor Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Queen Mary University of London

2015  Dr Brian A’Hearn, University of Oxford

2014  Professor Chris Wickham FBA, University of Oxford

2013  Professor Pier Vincenzo Mengaldo, University of Padua

2012  Professor Richard Bellamy, University College London

2011  Professor Patricia Fortini Brown, Princeton University

2010  Professor Anna Lepschy, University College London

2009  Professor Giorgio Chittolini, University of Milan

2008  Professor Philip Gossett, University of Chicago Università “La Sapienza” Rome

2007  Professor Conor Fahy

2006  Professor Paul Ginsborg

2005  Mr Ronald Lightbown

2004  Professor William Weaver

2003  Professor Stuart Woolf

2002  Professor John Woodhouse

2001  Professor Michael Hirst FBA

2000  Professor Giulio Lepschy FBA

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