Oxford University Byzantine Society – Call for Papers

Reshaping the World: Utopias, Ideals and Aspirations in Late Antiquity and Byzantium

24th International Graduate Conference of the Oxford University Byzantine Society

 25th—26th February 2022, in Oxford and Online


There is nothing better than imagining other worlds – he said – to forget the

painful one we live in. At least so I thought then. I hadn’t yet realized

that, imagining other worlds, you end up changing this one’.

– Umberto Eco, Baudolino

It is the creative power of imagination that Baudolino described to a fictionalised Niketas Choniates in this dialogue from Eco’s homonymous novel (2000). The creation of idealised imaginary worlds has the power to change the past, the present and the future. When imagination is directed towards more worldly goals, it becomes aspiration and such aspiration can influence policies of reform. When imagination is unrestrained, utopias are born.

The Oxford University Byzantine Society’s twenty-fourth International Graduate Conference seeks to explore the impact utopias, ideals and aspirations had in changing the course of history and, therefore, how imagined or alternative realities shaped the Late Antique and Byzantine world(s), broadly understood.

Our conference provides a forum for postgraduate and early-career scholars to reflect on this theme through a variety of cultural media and (inter)disciplinary approaches. In doing so, we hope to facilitate the interaction and engagement of historians, philologists, archaeologists, art historians, theologians and specialists in material culture. To that end, we encourage submissions encompassing, but not limited to, the following themes:


  • Theological and/or philosophical usage of utopias in the depictions of the ideal society, of the afterlife, or to serve a particular worldview;
  • Political, administrative, martial, economic and religious reforms as embodiments of aspirations or ideals;
  • Allegory as both a literary and philosophical tool that endowed texts with new and original meanings;
  • The ‘Byzantine novel’ and utopias: sceneries, characters and endings;
  • ‘Chivalry’ in Byzantium as a form of utopia, for example in works such as Digenis Akritis;
  • Language purism as a form of utopia;
  • Encomia, hagiography and historiography used to cater to and curate idealised images;
  • Numismatics, for example the depiction of harmonious imperial families on coinage in defiance of ‘reality’;
  • Gift-giving and exchange of luxury goods to communicate ideals or aspirations;
  • The performance of ceremony and ritual to suggest the continuity, legitimacy and permanence of imperial power;
  • The ideal city in various artistic media, for example frescos and manuscript illuminations;
  • Utopian ideas conveyed through material objects like seals or epigraphs;
  • Utopia and manuscript culture, for example the ‘perfect book’, illuminations of utopia/dystopia, and ‘idealised’ writing styles; and,
  • Byzantium as a utopia in the post-1453 imagination.


Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words, along with a short academic biography in the third person, to the Oxford University Byzantine Society by Friday 19th November 2021 at byzantine.society@gmail.com. Papers should be twenty minutes in length and may be delivered in English or French. As with previous conferences, selected papers will be published in an edited volume, chosen and reviewed by specialists from the University of Oxford. Speakers wishing to have their papers considered for publication should aim to be as close to the theme as possible in their abstract and paper. Nevertheless, all submissions are warmly invited.

To read the full text of the call for papers, please visit the OUBS website here: https://oxfordbyzantinesociety.wordpress.com/24th-oubs-international-graduate-conference-2022/

The conference will have a hybrid format, taking place both in Oxford and online. Accepted speakers are strongly encouraged to participate in person, but livestreamed papers are also warmly welcomed.

Alberto Ravani

James Cogbill

Arie Neuhauser

Tom Alexander

Byzantium at Ankara: Fall-Winter Seminar Series and Byzantine Music Workshop/Symposium, 11-12 November, 2021

We are happy to announce that Byzantium at Ankara is back with its brand new Fall-Winter Seminar Series.

On top of our “traditional” online lectures (scheduled for the month of December and featuring Dr. Elisa Tosi Brandi (University of Bologna) and Dr. Federica Broilo (University of Urbino), we are particularly proud of presenting students, scholars, and enthusiasts with an exciting initiative: a Workshop/Symposium on Byzantine Music entitled “Strolling through Echoes of the Past,” which will take place at Bilkent University on 11th and 12th November 2021. The Workshop/Symposium stems from a collaborative effort of Bilkent Saygun Center, Koç University-Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Bilkent Department of History, Byzantium at Ankara, Hacettepe University, and Hellenic Mediterranean University.

The event will include two morning sessions (in person) with the participation of students (max 15 due to Covid restrictions) who will be focusing on learning about Medieval and Byzantine music notation and chant under the supervision of Dr. Antonis Botonakis (Hellenic Mediterranean University).

We, therefore, invite students who are interested in participating in the workshops (to be held in the mornings of Thursday 10 and Friday 11 November at Bilkent University- FEASS Building, C Block Amphi) to register to abotonakis@hmu.gr. We regret that we could not offer accommodation or any reimbursement for travel expenses to those students who do not live or study in Ankara. Previous knowledge of Byzantine or Western notation is required.

These morning sessions will be followed by two afternoon sessions (hybrid) in which the world-famous composer Dimitri Terzakis, Cenk Güray, Alexander Lingas, and Antonis Botoniakis, among the others, will be delivering papers on Byzantine and Medieval Music Theory as well as on the influence of Ottoman culture on Modern Turkish and Greek music.

Dumbarton Oaks Fellowships and Grants in the Humanities, 2022-2023

Announcing Dumbarton Oaks Fellowships and Grants in the Humanities
Apply by November 1
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is an institute in Washington, D.C., administered by the Trustees for Harvard University. It supports research and learning internationally in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies.
Fellowships are awarded to Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian scholars on the basis of demonstrated scholarly ability and preparation of the candidate, including interest and value of the study or project, and the project’s relevance to the resources of Dumbarton Oaks.
Fellowships are awarded to scholars who hold a PhD or appropriate final degree at the time of application, or who have established themselves in their field, and wish to pursue their own research. Application deadline: November 1
Junior Fellowships are awarded to degree candidates who at the time of application have fulfilled all preliminary requirements for a PhD or appropriate final degree, and plan to work on a dissertation or final project while at Dumbarton Oaks, under the direction of a faculty member from their own university.
Application deadline: November 1
Dumbarton Oaks is delighted to announce three new fellowship awards this year:
The Flora Clancy Summer Fellowship in Maya Studies for Latin American Researchers is available to scholars in the field of Maya studies on any level of advancement beyond the first year of graduate study (post-Licenciatura) who are academically based in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, or El Salvador. Application deadline: November 1
The I Tatti–Dumbarton Oaks Joint Fellowship is available to early-career scholars whose work explores cross-cultural contacts in and beyond the late medieval and early modern Mediterranean. Application deadline: November 1
Summer Fellowships in Mellon Urban Humanities, “Landscapes of Civil and Human Rights” are available for scholars engaged in narratives and counternarratives of remembering, studying, and stewarding the legacy of civil rights histories and their place-narratives in the United States. Application deadline: November 1
Project Grants support scholarly projects by applicants holding a PhD or the equivalent. Support is generally for archaeological research, preservation of historic gardens, and the recovery, recording, and analysis of materials that would otherwise be lost.
Application deadline: November 1
Meet the 2021 – 2022 Dumbarton Oaks Scholars
Dumbarton Oaks is proud to announce our scholars, fellows, and project grants for 2021-2022. We invite you to learn more about our Fellowship community. Please visit the following for a listing of our fellows and grantees by department.

The Jacob Hirsch Fellowship

Deadline: January 15, 2022

Field of Study:  Archaeology

Eligibility:  U.S. or Israeli citizens who are either Ph.D. candidates writing their dissertations in archaeology, or early-career scholars (Ph.D. earned within the last five years) completing a project that requires a lengthy residence in Greece.

Terms:  Stipend of $11,500 plus room and board in Loring Hall, and waiver of School fees. A final report is due at the end of the award period, and the ASCSA expects that copies of all publications that result from research conducted as a Fellow of the ASCSA be contributed to the relevant library of the School.

Duration:  Commensurate with the School’s academic year, from early September to June 1.

Application: Submit online application form for “Associate Membership with Fellowship”, curriculum vitae, and a detailed description of the project to be pursued in Greece (250-word abstract and a statement up to three pages, single spaced). Arrange for three letters of recommendation. Student applicants are required to submit scans of official academic transcripts as part of the online application.

For more information about the application: https://www.ascsa.edu.gr/fellowships-and-grants

Questions? Contact: application@ascsa.org

The award will be announced March 15.

18th Rydén lecture – From Byzantium to ‘Byzantine’: how to approach medieval Greek literature today

You are cordially invited to the 18th lecture in the memory of Lennart Rydén (1931–2002), professor of Byzantine Studies at Uppsala University 1980–1996.
Thursday, 14 October 2021, 18.00 (6 pm), local time, presented in Zoom by the Newman Institute in Uppsala:
Meeting ID: 644 1021 1736
(host: Helena Bodin, <helena.bodin@littvet.su.se>)
From Byzantium to ‘Byzantine’: how to approach medieval Greek literature today
Ingela Nilsson, professor in Greek and Byzantine Studies, Uppsala University, and Director of the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, will look at the development of the study of Byzantine philology over the past couple of decades: the turn from texts as sources to texts as literature, the implementation of critical theory and the introduction of cross-cultural perspectives.
The event includes a book launch, starting at 19.00 (7 pm):
Reinhart Ceulemans and Barbara Crostini present their edited volume Receptions of the Bible in Byzantium: Texts, Manuscripts, and their Readers (Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2021), available in open access: http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A1472780&dswid=1454

Quackeries born of heathen and hellish folly: Translating polemic across the Mediterranean Monday, October 25 2:00pm – 3:30pm PDT

USC Center for the Premodern World
Quackeries born of heathen and hellish folly: Translating polemic across the Mediterranean
Dr. Sergio La Porta
Monday, October 25 2:00pm – 3:30pm PDT
This is a hybrid event.
For location and registration information:
The almost certainly apocryphal exchange of letters between the Byzantine Emperor Leo III (r. 717-741CE) and the Umayyad Caliph ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (r. 717-720CE) has survived in a set of texts that span a range of places, times, and languages. Preserved in Armenian, Arabic, Castilian, and Latin, the different versions of this royal, religious-polemical correspondence not only bear witness to the irreducible connectedness of the societies that produced them, but testify to the enduring reality and relevance of religious disputation in all of them. Although each of these linguistic iterations differs from the other, they share a set of central concerns that revolve around the nature of scripture and its interpretation, and of who has the authority to validate Truth. This talk will untangle the threads that intersect these texts and the complicated questions they raise about textual transmission, enduring relevance, and religious pluralism.
About the speaker: Dr. Sergio La Porta is the Interim Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and the Haig and Isabel Berberian Professor of Armenian Studies at California State University, Fresno. He received his Ph.D. in Armenian and Near Eastern Studies from Harvard University in 2001. Prior to coming to Fresno, Dr. La Porta taught Armenian and Religious Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research interests include medieval Armenian intellectual and social history, philology, and apocalyptic literature.

Seals and Society in the Medieval World

Seals and Society in the Medieval World
Virtual Colloquium in Byzantine Studies
Date: Friday, October 29th from 9:00-4:15pm ET
Where: Via Zoom
To mark the completion of the Dumbarton Oaks Online Catalogue of Byzantine Seals in 2021, Dumbarton Oaks is hosting a colloquium to explore the production, function, inscriptions, iconographic designs, and significance of seals. Building on the instant accessibility to the Byzantine seals collection and the research possibilities made available by the online catalogue, this colloquium invites scholars working on seals from Byzantine, European, and Middle Eastern medieval contexts to discuss and engage with each other’s material and to bring innovative, comparative perspectives to a specialized discipline entering a new phase.
Colloquiarchs: Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak (New York University), Eric McGeer (Dumbarton Oaks), and Jonathan Shea (Dumbarton Oaks)

Registration open for the 24th International Congress of Byzantine Studies

Registration is now open for the 24th International Congress of Byzantine Studies, 22 to 27 August 2022.


Early Bird registration ends 15 December 2021.

The Congress has a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/The-24th-International-Congress-of-Byzantine-Studies-104753535249518) that you can follow to stay updated and an account on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/byzcongress2022/).

Choose Your Own Adventure: Digital Methods for Byzantinists

The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture is pleased to partner with BSANA to pilot a series of online digital humanities workshops for graduate students and early career researchers in Byzantine Studies. The first workshop, Choose Your Own Adventure: Digital Methods for Byzantinists, will take place on October 22 (details below). Details for spring opportunities will be shared early in the new year.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Digital Methods for Byzantinists, workshop by Dr. A.L. McMichael (Michigan State University), via Zoom, October 22, 2021, 2:00–3:30 pm (ET)
This workshop will introduce best practice in digital humanities research for Byzantine Studies. Attendees will learn how to conduct an environmental scan of relevant projects, construct humanities research as data, and visualize the research using digital tools. The second half will be a hands-on workshop on building digital collections of historical sources.

The workshop is limited to 20 participants. Registration is first come, first served.

Registration closes Monday, October 18 at 1:00 pm (ET).

Who is eligible?
–Graduate students in the field of Byzantine studies who are currently enrolled in a graduate program in North America
–Early career researchers who received their PhD from a North American university and are within 3 years of receiving their degree (i.e., after October 2018). For ECRs who received their degree between 3 and 8 years ago, you may request to be put on a waiting list and will be contacted in the event that there are open spaces in the workshop. To be put on a waiting list, please contact Brandie Ratliff at mjcbac@hchc.edu.

To read a full description of the workshop and register, please visit https://maryjahariscenter.org/events/digital-methods-for-byzantinists.

Contact Brandie Ratliff (mjcbac@hchc.edu), Director, Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture, with any questions.

BSC 2021 in Cleveland: Preliminary Program, conference information, call for chairs

Welcome to the 47th Annual Byzantine Studies Conference.  We are pleased to present the preliminary program. It will likely be adjusted as we near the conference date; the date and time of the plenary and Jaharis events will not change. The program is also accessible on our website: https://bsana.net/annual-conference/.
The conference will be hybrid; we hope to see as many of you as possible in person, and welcome hybrid participation. Details forthcoming.
Call for session chairs: If you would like to chair a session, send an email to Galina Tirnanic (tirnanic@oakland.edu), specifying which session(s) you would be interested in chairing. You can propose to chair an organized session if the chair is not specified.
Masks are required and full vaccination will be expected.
Speakers who are 6′ distant from the audience will be allowed to take their masks off.
Food and beverage stations will be arranged to ensure social distancing; the Saturday lunch will be plated, and seating designated to ensure social distancing.
Registration, including fees and fee scale, are forthcoming. Please check the CWRU conference website, which will be accessible via bsana.net.
All events will be held in the Tinkham Veale University Center on the CWRU campus or in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Both are visible on this map:
Special BSC rates are available at these two hotels:
Glidden House:
directly between the CWRU campus and the Cleveland Museum of Art – 5 minute walk.
Courtyard Marriott, University Circle, Cleveland (reserve by 11/18/2021 for the discounted rate):
10-15 minute walk to both the CWRU campus and the Cleveland Museum of Art

© 2022 Byzantine Studies Association of North America, Inc. (BSANA) . All Rights Reserved.