What might count as a disability in a Byzantine context? What social consequences did it have? How was it represented in texts? How did people try to cope with their disabilities?
Despite the huge importance attributed to these men and their activities in modern scholarship, national narratives, and Slavic Orthodox identity, our knowledge about them rests largely on two texts whose interests are quite different from our own. What do we really know about them?
A conversation with Efi Ragia on coming to grips with social class in Byzantium, a society without a fixed social hierarchy, at least not fixed in terms of hereditary groups. Claims to high (or low) social standing were often rhetorical and fluid. Who were “the powerful”? By what criteria could they be recognized, and how might others aspire to that position?
A conversation about digital humanities in Byzantine research, with Kuba Kabala. How did digital humanities emerge from traditional (analog) modes of research? What new approaches do they enable? What new findings do they make possible?
What did it take, and what did it do to you, to avoid the company of others in Byzantium? How far did you have to pare your life down, and how reliant were you still on networks of support and supply?
This episode looks at Byzantine reactions to pandemics. What was the threshold of social visibility for a pandemic anyway? What could the government do to help? What imaginative and social resources were activated in times of pandemic?
A conversation with Jennifer Davis on the study of empire in a medieval context, contrasting the different ways in which Charlemagne and the Byzantine emperors ran theirs. What do we mean by empire after all?
A conversation with Buket Bayrı about Turkish films that prominently feature Byzantine characters and settings, especially the films about Battal Gazi.
A conversation with Cecily Hilsdale about the coping strategies that late Byzantium used to counter, ameliorate, and reverse its imperial decline.
We know so much about the Byzantines, and yet really so little. If we had the chance to meet and debrief one person from that world, who would it be?
A conversation with Garth Fowden about how the peoples of the Caucasus – Armenians, Georgians, and Albanians – coped with living between two empires, how those empires sought to intervene in their region, and the cultural and religious changes that took place there during the first half of the first millennium. This episode demonstrates the illuminating ways in which global and regional history can be combined.
A conversation with Lynn Jones on how fragments of the True Cross were requested, gifted, traveled, repatriated, abducted, and returned in the early Byzantine period; how they were used to validate rival claims to power; and the anxiety caused by doubts over their authenticity.
A conversation with Sean Anthony about the earliest sources for the life of the Prophet Muhammad, including the Quran, papyri, inscriptions, and Christian sources of the seventh century, and how Muslims were initially perceived by the Romans of the eastern provinces.
A conversation with Elizabeth Key Fowden on the Parthenon mosque and Athens under the Ottomans.
As our own political world is increasingly revolving around mass protests, it is time to revisit what we know about the dynamics of crowds in imperial Roman cities, whether they acted for or against the regime of the day.
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.