Dear All,

Many warm greetings from a beautifully sunny Thessaloniki, the Symbasileuousa. Apologies for the lateness of this email, I have been without internet for some days, but I hope that the wealth of things we have this week will make up for it.
Best wishes to all,

Nicholas Matheou
MPhil Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, St. Cross College
President, Oxford University Byzantine Society

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The Byzness, 19th of August, 2013

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On behalf of the Academic Board of the 2014 Mediaeval and Renaissance Conference “Othello’s Island” I would like to inform you of our second annual conference taking place in Cyprus in 2014. We would welcome submissions for this multidisciplinary conference from academics and research students wishing to give papers at the Conference, which takes place in Larnaca in Cyprus next April (2014). The conference is organised by academics from the Cornaro Institute, University of Sheffield School of English and the University of Leeds School of Fine Art. It will be an opportunity to discuss diverse aspects of this fascinating period in Mediterranean and Levantine history with colleagues and reserach students from around the world, for full information please see here.




Making Meaning: Technologies of Transformative Production and Creative Consumption I: Manufacture of Meaning; II Diachronic Redefinition
Session Co-organizers: Eric Ramírez-Weaver (UVA) & Christopher Lakey (Johns Hopkins University/PIMS)

Current methodologies in cultural history and Medieval Studies have attempted to resituate and reorient the traditional historical emphasis upon the creative body as a uniquely enabled and inspired force capable of transforming vatic and imaginary experience into material reality. Methodological turns in favor of “object agency” and the “Posthuman” privilege the vagaries and vicissitudes of natural processes of growth, entropy, or decay, as transformative and generative modalities of metamorphosis. In light of such transformative processes of delayed definition and perpetual refinement, or spiritually based interaction with medieval objects, the nature of medieval art, science, and creativity need to be seriously reconsidered. Devotional accretion of object value in the case of reliquaries, erosion of buildings and historically holy sites, pagan springs turned into great churches with baptismal fonts, manuscripts and catenae with endless annotation, compilatio as an ethos of
creation rather than indifferent agglomeration, the editing or revision of texts, the reintegration of spoliated materials, and the scars of growth cast across the fabric of architectural monuments all supply meaningful examples of the myriad ways acts of creative intervention infused the material culture of the Middle Ages with polyvalent semiotic possibilities. In this series of sessions, we welcome proposals that address these issues with a focus on the (I) Manufacture of Meaning and (II) Diachronic Redefinition.

(I) Manufacture of Meaning
It is considered somewhat axiomatic that medieval objects, manuscripts, and great churches provide crafted confessions of belief and desire. Rather than privileging the alleged intellectual motivations of the manufacturer, however, in this session papers are sought which interrogate the role of the object or monument in cultural history. In particular, papers which address the interconnected nexus of ties which link great churches to their communities, pilgrims to their objects of veneration, artisans to their techniques, families to their dynastic nobility or medieval towns, or artists to guilds and changing modalities of artistic production are sought. Papers are welcome which examine the creative opportunity of the work of art or architecture to participate in or regulate the evolution of viable modalities of creative expression, establishing the parergonal parameters for subsequent semantic investigation.

(II) Diachronic Redefinition
In this session, discrete strategies of creative intervention emphasize the diachronic historical transformations of sites, objects, rhetoric, ideas, and the reproductive possibilities of countervailing, non-hegemonic discourses during the medieval period. Scholars such as Carolyn Dinshaw have underscored the ways that meaning is created and renewed across time through the meaningful interaction of recurring encounters with the past in an evanescent present. Taking seriously the idea that forgotten and historically recorded encounters across time establish an interlocking nexus of meanings through which individual narratives or artworks need to be (re)interpreted by modern cultural historians, this session seeks papers that address standard and atypical monuments evoking scorn or derision, propaganda, historicity, critique, ephemera, dissent, reaction, censure, or creative reinterpretation. Papers are warmly invited which grapple with the methodological impact of medieval texts and artworks, documenting creative moments of social and spiritual transformation, syncretistic exchange, and public or political challenge.

We welcome one-page proposals (250-300 words). They should be sent along with a completed participant information form (found at to Eric Ramírez-Weaver and/or Christopher Lakey ( by September 15, 2014.




Deadline: November 31, 2013 (original deadline was a typo)
Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Saint Louis University
Contact: Jason Fossella (
We are organizing 3+ session on Byzantine studies for the 2014 SMRS, which will be held June 16-18 in Saint Louis. We are seeking:
-Papers for a general session on Byzantine studies
-Papers for a session on diplomacy and communications in Byzantium
-Participants in a roundtable discussion on the relationship between Byzantine Studies and the study of Medieval Europe
If there is significant interest in the general session, we may organize a second one.
For the paper sessions, please submit an abstract (no more than 300 words) by November 31. Please submit no more than one abstract.
For the roundtable, please indicate your interest in participating by November 31.
For more information on the Symposium, visit
IMC 2014, ‘Empire’: 7-10 July 2014
Plans for the academic programme of IMC 2013 are well underway. The IMC continues to welcome proposals for papers and sessions on all aspects of the study of the European Middle Ages, in any major European language.
Although the last western Roman emperor was deposed in 476, the Roman Empire continued to shape imagination even when it had ceased to play a major political role. Throughout the Middle Ages, ‘Empire’ suggested a claim to universal lordship. The concept of imperium implied not only the ability and power to exercise authority over others, but could also be used to distinguish spiritual from secular spheres of power. There was also the concept of ‘informal empire’, a term often employed by modern historians to describe a group of distinct territories held together by ties of commerce, ideology, dynastic traditions, or conquest.
‘Informal empires’ were forged by King Cnut in the 11th century and by the rulers of Aragon in the 14th. The papacy, the western Empire, and Byzantium all claimed to inherit the mantle of Rome, while the Caliphates expressed a similar claim to universal leadership. The meaning of imperium, in turn, became a central issue in medieval scholarship, whether in scholastic theology, medieval philosophy, canon law, or the writing of history and literature. No type of empire was unable to avoid challenges (and challengers). Each type exercised a profound influence not only on politics, but on every aspect of daily life: on commerce and trade as well as the environment, cultural practice, social structures and organisation, the movement of ideas and people. Empires and their rulers could also be products of political and cultural memory and myth-making, with Charlemagne, Arthur, and Troy perhaps among the more famous examples.
‘Empire’ was not limited to the regions surrounding the medieval Mediterranean. Universal monarchy was central to the self-representation of imperial China, while informal empires rose and fell in Africa as well as in Asia and pre-Columbian America. Christian, Confucian, Buddhist, and Islamic scholars discussed ‘Empire’ in all its varieties and forms. Empire was a universal phenomenon, and thus calls for sustained exploration across a wide range of disciplines, and geographical and chronological areas of expertise.
Points of discussion could include:
•       The role of settlers, merchants, rulers, and others in creating and fashioning empire
•       The decline and fall of empires
•       The typology of empire
•       The governance and organisation of empires
•       The experience of empire by individuals and communities
•       The representation of Empire in music, art, literature, and material culture
•       Traditions of empire, their use and development
•       Theoretical models of Empire: Medieval and modern
•       Concepts and practices of empire in the Islamic world, Africa, America, and Asia
•       The role of imperium in medieval philosophy, theology, and literature
•       The role of universal authority in medieval thought and practice
•       The influence of medieval concepts and practices of empire on their post-medieval successors
Dates to remember:
IMC 2014 paper proposals deadline: 31 August 2013
IMC 2014 session proposals deadline: 30 September 2013
IMC 2014: 7-10 July 2014
IMC 2015: 6-9 July 2015
IMC 2016: 4-7 July 2016

The Komnenian Empire: La Belle Époque Finale de Rome?

The Komnenian period is undoubtedly a crucial turning point for the medieval Roman Empire, the age in which the rise of Latin Christendom brought the antique Empire’s two Christian children into closer contact than they had been for half a millennium. This is the last period when the Empire can truly be considered a ‘superpower’, with the Rhomaioi campaigning in the Balkans, Anatolia, Italy, Syria, and Egypt, and vast Crusader armies crossing the Empire itself. Constantinople was visited by a king of Jerusalem and a sultan of ‘Rum’, with both doing the emperor homage there. Imperial coinage retained its place as the Mediterranean standard, having been reformed by Alexios I. There were religious controversies, both with the Latins, and within the imperial Church. Moreover, it was an era which produced some of the greatest historiographers of the Byzantine millennium, as well as a vast amount of other literature in the so-called Komnenian Renaissance.

Yet how are we to characterise the Komnenian achievement, as a successful recovery from the eleventh-century crisis, or as only a temporary solution which in some ways itself contributed to the decline of c.1180-1204? What might even be the criteria and methodologies upon which such a question would rest? This session will address these issues. We warmly invite postgraduates in at least their second year of study, and both early-career and established researchers, to submit an abstract of 250 words to by the 15th of September.

Some suggested topics might be:

* The Komnenian army.

* The Komnenoi, the aristocracy, and imperial authority.

* Coinage and the economy.

* Reconquest in Asia Minor and the Anatolian Turkish polities.

* The ‘Komnenian Renaissance’

* Government and administration.

* Basileia ton Rhomaion and Imperium Romanorum: the ‘Greek’ and ‘German’ Empires.

* ‘Rise and Fall of Empire’: a useful historical construct or a misleading narrative?

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Dear Historians of Islamic Art:

I am leading an educational study tour to Malta and Cyprus this fall and am searching for interested participants. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the cultural heritage of these two amazing Mediterranean island nations combined uniquely into one trip.  Please see the following link:

You may also contact me directly for further details:

Thank you for your time,

Dr. Veronica Kalas, PhD

Fordham University is pleased to announce registration for the conference “Constantine: Religious Faith and Imperial Policy”, in celebration of the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan. The conference is free, but prior registration is requested, please see here for more details.

Booking will be open till August 29th for our forthcoming conference:
Byzantium and British Heritage: Byzantine influences on the Arts & Crafts Movement
4-7 September 2013
Strand Campus, King’s College London

This conference, organised by the British School at Athens in conjunction with the Centre for Hellenic Studies opens a dialogue between specialists on the Byzantine world and on the Arts and Crafts Movement in order to set into context an important, if short-lived, episode in Anglo-Hellenic relations at the turn of the 20th century.

This dialogue will be articulated around the architects who created the Byzantine Research Fund Archive, a unique collection of architectural drawings and photographs of numerous monuments across the Byzantine world, held in the Archive of the British School at Athens. Educated and trained in the traditions of the Arts and Crafts Movement (1880-1930) these architects developed highly successful practices, undertaking major commissions for buildings, furniture and fittings across Britain and the Empire. Their work, uniting as it does distinctively a British design tradition with Byzantine arts and crafts, represents a highly significant and under-researched link between Britain and the Hellenic world.

The conference is free to attend (4-6th Sept), though there is a small charge for the optional day-excursion (7th Sept) to St Sophia, Bayswater and to the Church of the Wisdom of God, Lower Kingswood, Surrey.

For full details of the conference programme, and to book, please visit the Centre for Hellenic Studies website:

Or the front page of the British School at Athens website:


The study of Byzantium in Turkey has made huge leaps in recent years, even if the field remains less visible than

the major fields of classical archaeology and Ottoman studies. Byzantium is now taught in several Turkish

universities, and an increasing number of Turkish students choose to delve in its history and material or visual

culture studying at home or abroad. The aim of this series, placed under the auspices of the BIAA (British

Institute at Ankara) and made possible through funding from both the British Institute and the Turkish Embassy

in London, is to present and make better known in the UK the achievements of Turkish scholarship with

particular emphasis on new research projects, offering a global view of the trends prevailing in Byzantine studies

in Turkey.

All lectures take place at King’s College London (Strand Campus, WC2).

For further information contact the convenors, Ioanna Rapti ( and Tassos Papacostas

( Please see the attached poster for more information.BIZANS poster

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