By what standards can anyone say that Roman history ends at some point and Byzantine history begins? Or is Byzantine history rather a phase of Roman history?
We talk about how modern Romantic notions of poetry as well as the ancient meters of classical Greek have distorted the expectations that we place on Byzantine poetry, and then discuss the specific contexts that gave rise to poetry in Byzantine society. Who were the poets? How did poems accompany objects and events?
We know so much about Byzantium, and yet really so little. If we had the chance to meet and debrief one person who had experienced some part of it first-hand, who would it be? What person would answer the burning questions that we have? Who would alert us to questions that we aren’t asking because we are used to the limitations of our sources? How would we choose our questions?
A conversation with Cecily Hilsdale about the history and ritual functions of Egyptian obelisks, from ancient Egypt down to Rome, Constantinople, and beyond.
A conversation with Alexander Lingas on the debates surrounding the reconstruction of Byzantine music. We discuss the common origins of western and eastern Christian traditions, when they parted ways, and how both traditions passed through phases of reinvention. Why does the modern performance of Gregorian Chant sound so different from Byzantine chant?
A conversation with Stephen Morris about the attitudes toward male homosexuality in different sites of Byzantine culture and the prospects for an orthodox recognition…
A conversation with Elizabeth Dospěl Williams on how people in Byzantium experienced the materiality of the objects they used, especially jewelry and textiles. We look at some of those objects together, discuss their qualities, and situate our engagement with material culture in broader discussions of historical theory.
A conversation with Sofia Torallas Tovar and David Brakke about Coptic Egypt, the life and works of Shenute the Great, and how Coptic and Byzantine Studies can talk more with each other, just as the people they study talked to each other in the fourth-seventh centuries.
Who were these raiders? What did they want? How did provincials and the empire as a whole respond to them? A fear of marauders probably doesn’t keep you up at night today, but this was a major anxiety in Byzantine life.
A conversation with Siren Çelik about the new generation of Turkish Byzantine scholars, and the paths by which one might come to study Byzantium in Turkey and beyond.
A conversation with Tamar Hodos on how the application of market logic to humanities research and teaching is driving up tuition costs for…
A conversation with Steven Smith about worldly and sinful epigrams from the sixth century that talk about love, sex, food, and other pleasures.
A wide-ranging conversation with Merle Eisenberg on the opportunities created for historians by media, old and new, to disseminate our ideas to the public
Could one rise from a provincial town to a position of power and wealth in the capital without having a military career?
A conversation with Leonora Neville on whether the scholarly rubric “Byzantium” does more harm than good. How did it come into being? What biases and ideologies, especially in the domain of gender, does it encode? What blind-spots and distortions does it create?
A conversation with Paroma Chatterjee on Indian perspectives and approaches to Byzantium.
A conversation with Troy Goodfellow on how Byzantium and other premodern civilizations are represented in video games, and how the mechanics of the games structure those representations, player’s goals, and the dynamics of historical change.
A conversation with Judith Herrin about the fascinating history of Ravenna between 400 and 800 AD.
An anthology of Byzantine tales of horror. Learn about foul murders, demonic visitations, the undead, and the criminally insane; also, the Byzantine science of demonology and the spirit world.
A conversation with Alice-Mary Talbot on the experience of communal monastic life in Byzantium, ranging from its organization and rules to its religious goals, engagement with society, and differences between monasteries for men and women.
A conversation with Bissera Pentcheva about the sensory and spiritual experience of Hagia Sophia, where architecture, sound, and light met theology and prayer, based on her book Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space, and Spirit in Byzantium.
A conversation with Dave Jenkins about how we read (and how to enjoy) Byzantine literature, from digitized manuscripts and online databases to the pleasures of Byzantine prose.
A conversation with Christian Raffensperger about the kingdom of Rus’ and our concept of “medieval Europe,” its potential and current limitations, based on his book The Kingdom of Rus’.
A conversation with Chryssa Bourbou on what we learn from health and society in Byzantium from the study of skeletal remains.
A conversation with Noel Lenski on “slave societies” and how the institution of slavery changed in Late Antiquity and Byzantium. Were tasks performed by slaves in antiquity carried out by free people in Late Antiquity? What were the experiences of Byzantines who were themselves captured in raids and taken outside the empire?