The Byzness

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The Byzness, 10th October 2016


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‘Friends, Enemies, Kin:Constructing Kinship Webs and Situational Kinship Networks in Medieval Eastern Europe.’  Lecture by Christian Raffensperger, Latimer Room, Clare College, Cambridge, 25th October, 5.00pm

Problematizing the idea of the nation-state read back into the past, modern ideas of ethnicity, and even the common methods of utilizing terminology for medieval clans and families, leaves a discursive lacuna. What is left are largely individuals, set loosely into a family structure; but a new kind of structure in which individual identities and families are tracked bilaterally and all of the various parameters of influence and history are considered. This talk will place those individuals into a further interpretive framework, utilizing two new categories of discourse: the kinship web and situational kinship networks. These concepts create a structure for individual behavior and action that can be used for the analysis of events in medieval eastern Europe in particular, but throughout the medieval world as well.


Christian Raffensperger is an Associate Professor of History at Wittenberg University. The broad aim of his work is the integration of medieval eastern Europe into the larger medieval European world. His first two books (Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World (2012) and Ties of Kinship: Genealogy and Dynastic Marriage in Kyivan Rus’ (2016) have focused specifically on the kingdom of Rus’, and its place in Europe. While forthcoming works look more broadly at rulership, titulature, and governance in medieval Europe, and medieval eastern Europe specifically.


Tea and biscuits will be served from 4.45pm.




Byzantine Seminars at University of Cambridge, 2016-7


Please find the full timetable of Byzantine seminars at Cambridge here.

This year the Byzantine Greek Reading Group will convene Tuesdays from 11.30 am to 12.30 pm at Newnham College to read Paulus Silentiarius ‘Descriptio Sanctae Sophiae’.


Please contact or see our website for more information.





The Oxford University Byzantine Society’s 19th International Graduate Conference: Transmitting and Circulating the Late Antique and Byzantine Worlds, History Faculty, 24-25th February 2017

Movement was the norm rather than the exception in the Late Antique and Byzantine worlds. Things travelled: ideas, religions, foods, materials, money, people. Whether it was a Christian bishop sent to convert the North Caucuses, a coin which found its way to Anglo-Saxon England, or a piece of column which only made its way down a local road, how scholars engage with and taxonomise this constant flux has been key to the way in which we conceptualise the Late Antique and Byzantine worlds.


Since Dmitry Obolensky’s seminal 1971, The Byzantine Commonwealth, 500-1453, Byzantium or the Medieval East Roman Empire, has largely been viewed as the centre from which ideas, money, and things were transmitted outwards, and its commonwealth the space in which they circulated. This conference will offer a platform for interdisciplinary discussion on how far this perspective shapes modern scholarly debate, and in what other ways we can begin to reconceptualise transmission and circulation in the Late Antique and Byzantine worlds.


Postgraduate scholars are encouraged to engage with and problematise the concepts of transmission and circulation, as well as to offer specific case studies of these phenomena surging or declining at any particular time. Papers might address any of the following, but all contributions, especially those engaging with the so-called ‘peripheries’, whether Eastern, Western, Southern or Northern, of the Late Antique and Byzantine worlds are strongly encouraged.

  • Circulation of coinage, luxury and sustenance goods, slaves – where from, where to and why?
  • Transmission of political ideologies, structures of legitimacy, ceremony and bureaucracy – when is transmission adoption and when is it appropriation?
  • The use and re-use of material objects, large and small, locally, regionally and more widely
  • Missions of Christian (and other) conversions and the transportation of religious ideas
  • Migrations, invasions and settlements – how did people and their ethnic identities move?
  • Transmission of knowledge: teaching and education and techniques thereof – could and did ideas circulate without movement of people?
  • The consolidation and circulation of texts, genres norms, and registers of speech and writing
  • How did horizontal transmission (from Constantinople to Baghdad) differ from vertical transmission (from the emperor to the farmer)
  • Circulation below elite level of persons, commodities, texts, etc. – the piecemeal (and potentially subversive) components of any ‘commonwealth’

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words, with a short academic biography in the third person, to the Oxford University Byzantine Society at  by Friday, 18th November 2016. Papers should be 20 minutes in length, delivered in English or French.

As with our previous conferences, there will be a publication of selected papers chosen and reviewed by specialist readers from the University of Oxford’s Late Antique and Byzantine Studies research centres. Any speakers wishing to have their papers considered for publication should try to engage with the conference theme as closely as possible in their abstract and paper. Nevertheless, all submissions are warmly invited.

For a PDF file of this click here or find the text on our website here.



Call for papers for Session 2 of the 27th Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC) at Durham University, Durham, UK – A Globalised Visual Culture? Towards a geography of Late Antique Art’

Organisers: Fabio Guidetti (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Exzellenzcluster Topoi), Katharina Meinecke (Universität Wien, Institut für Klassische Archäologie)


Late Antique artefacts, and the images they carry, attest to a highly connected visual culture from ca. 300 to 800 C.E. On the one hand, the same decorative motifs and iconographies are found across various genres of visual and material culture, irrespective of social and economic differences among their users – for instance in mosaics, architectural decoration, and luxury arts (silver plate, textiles, ivories), as well as in objects of everyday use such as tableware, lamps, and pilgrim vessels. On the other hand, they are also spread in geographically distant regions. Decorative motifs of Roman (and later Byzantine) origin appear, mingled with local elements, far beyond the traditional borders of the classical world – in the Germanic West, Himyarite South Arabia, Sasanian Iran, and the Umayyad Empire. At the same time, foreign motifs, especially of Germanic and Sasanian origin, are attested in Roman territories. This combination of iconographies pertaining to different traditions in various cultural contexts created a veritable koiné of images, which was characteristic of the Late Roman and post-Roman world.


This panel wishes to investigate the reasons behind this appropriation of images in different cultural contexts across the Late Antique world. In a period characterised by increasing political fragmentation, acculturation to a dominating Roman/Byzantine Empire and enhanced connectivity cannot be the only explanations for this visual koiné. Why were these images attractive to patrons of so different geographical and cultural origins, and how were they transferred from one area into another? The aim of the panel is to seek new approaches to these questions and to develop a theoretical framework for further analysis. The contributors are encouraged to critically reflect on the adequacy of the proposed models, such as connectivity or transfer studies, in addressing the phenomenon of Late Antique visual koiné. Suggested topics include – but are not limited to – new theoretical approaches to the problem of a globalised Late Antique visual and material culture; possible modes of transfer – both within the Roman/Byzantine Empire and in cross-cultural perspective – that facilitated the geographical dissemination of iconographic motifs; case studies of certain groups of artefacts or iconographies attested in different regions and their archaeological contexts; case studies of certain geographical areas in regard to the overall topic of the highly connected visual culture of Late Antiquity.


Paper submissions should include the speaker’s name, title, institution, and an abstract of no more than 300 words. Please indicate the session you wish to contribute to. If the session is oversubscribed, submitted papers will also be considered for the general session.


All submissions should be sent by email to the Durham 2017 Organizing Committee at:


The deadline for submission of papers is 18 November 2016.


More details regarding TRAC Durham:


Workshop call for participation: Reconsidering the concept of Decline and the Arts of the Palailogan Era, University of Birmingham, 24-25th February 2017

This one day and a half conference combines in its structure a symposium and a workshop. The aim is to examine and contextualise the artistic and cultural production of the geopolitical centres that were controlled by or in contact with the late Byzantine Empire. The intent is to set the innovation of this production against the notion of decline and the narrative of decay frequently acknowledged for the Palaiologan Era; and to promote an understanding of transformation where previous cultural heritages were integrated into new socio-political orders.


On the second day, a workshop will be held. This is open to the speakers, the invited lecturers and to six MA students from United Kingdom universities. Each MA student will be invited to give a 10-minute power point presentation in an informal setting discussing one of the seven objects listed in the document with more information.


MA students need to choose two objects amongst the seven above and put together a 250 words text explaining why they chose these objects and how each of the two objects, in their entirety or focusing only on one detail, relates to the title of the conference.


The organizers will select six MA students and assign to each of them one of the two objects they proposed to present. The MA students will be invited to give their presentations on the second day of the Symposium in an informal setting. The six presentations do not require original research, but rather are aimed at raising questions, discussing the objects, and providing an opportunity for scholars and students to discuss in a relaxed way the main topics of the Symposium and to further develop on the papers presented on the first day.


Travel in the UK and accommodation will be covered for the MA students presenting at the workshop.


Proposed objects, the 250 words text and a short CV should be sent to Alessia Rossi  and Andrea Mattiello  by 12

December 2016. Selected students will be contacted by the 16 December 2016.


For the full list of objects and more information click here.







Kress Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Index of Christian Art, Princeton University

The Index of Christian Art, Princeton University, is pleased to invite applications for a one-year postdoctoral fellowship for AY 2017-2018, with the possibility of renewal contingent on satisfactory performance.


Funded by a grant from the Kress Foundation, the Kress Postdoctoral Fellow will collaborate with permanent research and professional staff to develop taxonomic and research enhancements for the Index’s redesigned online application, which is set to launch in fall 2017. Salary is $60,000 plus benefits for a 12-month appointment, with a $2,500 allowance provided for scholarly travel and research. The Fellow will enjoy research privileges at Princeton Libraries as well as opportunities to participate in the scholarly life of the Index and the Department of Art & Archaeology.

The successful candidate will have a specialization in medieval art from any area or period; broad familiarity with medieval images and texts; a sound grasp of current trends in medieval studies scholarship; and a committed interest in the potential of digital resources to enrich work in art history and related fields. Strong foreign language and visual skills, the ability to work both independently and collaboratively after initial training, and a willingness to learn new technologies are highly desirable; previous experience in digital humanities, teaching, and/or library work is advantageous. Applicants must have completed all requirements for the PhD, including dissertation defense, before the start of the fellowship. Preference will be given to those whose subject expertise complements that of current Index staff.


Applications will be reviewed beginning January 15 and will continue until the position is filled. Applicants must apply on line (see link below), submitting a C.V., a cover letter, a research statement, and the names and contact information of three references. The position is subject to the University’s background check policy.


The Index of Christian Art. Since 1917, the Index of Christian Art has provided a unique resource for the study of medieval art. Its descriptive and visual documentation of iconographic subjects, originally conceived as a print archive but now undergoing full digitization, permits researchers to analyze imagery produced in eastern and western Europe throughout the “long Middle Ages.”

Princeton University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.




Fellowships for Research and Study at the Gennadius Library of the American School of Classical studies at Athens

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is pleased to announce the academic programs and fellowships for the 2017-2018 academic year at the Gennadius Library. Opened in 1926 with 26,000 volumes from diplomat and bibliophile, Joannes Gennadius, the Gennadius Library now holds a richly diverse collection of over 126,000 books and rare bindings, archives, manuscripts, and works of art illuminating the Hellenic tradition and neighboring cultures. The Library has become an internationally renowned center for the study of Greek history, literature, and art, especially from the Byzantine period to modern times.


THE M. ALISON FRANTZ FELLOWSHIP: Ph.D. candidates and recent Ph.D.’s from colleges or universities in the U.S. or Canada for work in the Gennadius Library for full academic year. Stipend of $11,500 plus room, board, and waiver of School fees.




MEDIEVAL GREEK SUMMER SESSION AT THE GENNADIUS LIBRARY (2017): Graduate students and post-doctoral scholars in any field of late antique, post-antique, Byzantine or medieval studies at any university worldwide. Month-long program in intermediate level Medieval Greek language and philology at the Gennadius Library, with site and museum trips. Up to twelve scholarships available. DEADLINE: JANUARY 15, 2017.


COTSEN TRAVELING FELLOWSHIP FOR RESEARCH IN GREECE: Short-term travel-to collections award of $2,000 for senior scholars and graduate students for projects and research at the Gennadius Library. Open to all nationalities. At least one month of residency required. School fees are waived for a maximum of two months. DEADLINE: JANUARY 15, 2017.


THE GEORGE PAPAIOANNOU FELLOWSHIP: Ph.D. candidates or recent Ph.D.’s writing on Greece in the 1940’s and the post-war period. Fellows are required to make use of and refer to the George Papaioannou Papers housed at the Archives of the Gennadius Library. Open to all nationalities. School fees are waived for a maximum of two months. Stipend of €1,000. DEADLINE: JANUARY 15, 2017.


NEH FELLOWSHIPS: Awards for postdoctoral scholars and professionals in the humanities. Terms: Two to four fellowships, five to ten months in duration. Maximum stipend for a five-month project, $21,000; for a ten-month project, $42,000.  U.S. citizens or foreign nationals being U.S. residents for three years before application deadline. Candidates must hold their Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree at time of application. DEADLINE: OCTOBER 31, 2016.


Please forward this announcement to eligible students or colleagues you may know who are working on a project in post-classical studies and encourage them to apply. For further information, consult the ASCSA website at:


American School of Classical Studies at Athens does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, religion, ethnic origin, or disability when considering admission to any form of membership or application for employment.



Mirela Ivanova

DPhil Candidate in History
President, Oxford University Byzantine Society

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