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

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)
Free and open to the public. Register here: https://www.doaks.org/research/byzantine/scholarly-activities/seals-and-society-in-the-medieval-world

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/).

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

Kassia & The New Istanbul Convent(tion) Digital Conferences

in cooperation with universities worldwide
Kassia (810-865): considered as the first female composer worldwide whose works have come down to us. Kassia: beautiful, intelligent, educated – and so emancipated that she dared to contradict Emperor Theophilos of Constantinople showing theological acumen during the “bride show” organized for him in 823. When in 843 Kassia was 33 she founded a monastery, which she presided over until her death in 865. 300 years before Hildegard von Bingen, she composed hymns that are still sung in Eastern Church today. Although biographical data are hardly available and only a part of her writings has survived, her personality is particularly evident in her non-liturgical poems. These poems suggest that Kassia was a highly educated and intellectually gifted woman. A person who writes a poem where every line starts with “I hate” cannot have been a shy person. She knew how to Express her thoughts to demonstrate her position. In a time and a society where women should be silent, Kassia was not silent. As a result, in her writings we have a unique female voice that has endured over ages.
From Turkey, Germany and Poland, a women’s museum, a theatre company, a composer with his orchestra, a women’s initiative, and the departments of graphics, animation and art history from two universities and many individuals have come together to celebrate Kassia’s 1211th birthday. We hear Kassia’s voice and carry it on into the present so that women’s voices get louder across the borders. As a hymnographer, Kassia is celebrated in general for her piety and profound expression of religious devotion. We believe that she deserves to be remembered in her entire personality: as a composer, poet, philosopher, campaigner, networker, activist, innovator, even as a feminist. In dialogue with Kassia we want to talk about our lives, our political and social interference for a self-determined life, and encourage and empower one another. Our project is an encounter through music, dance, stories, poems, illustrations, graphics, animations. This variety opens up space to express our dreams and life plans for a just society and makes feminist debate visible beyond the borders. Especially in a year when Turkey announced her withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention and when a similar step is being discussed in Poland, such communication is imperative and important.
Finally the project planned includes several premieres: for the first time since her death Kassia’s birthday will be celebrated; the first opera in honour of Kassia is being composed; the first videos and graphics are being created that reinterpret her secular poems as artwork; professional actors will interpret her poems in (Byzantine) historical places, the performance will be made available as a documentary; and for the first time researchers on Kassia will come together for scholarly exchange.
14 October 19.00 (CEST)
Host: Havle & Pracownia Kuratorska & kainkollektiv
English/Turkish/Polish simultaneous translation provided
21 October 20.00 (CEST)
Host: kainkollektiv, Bochum
German/Turkish/Polish simultaneous translation provided
23 October 16.30 (CEST)
Host: İstanbul Women’s Museum
English/Turkish/Polish simultaneous translation provided
Registration https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WlniNxmES4GMWrsLoF9row
23 October 19.30 (CEST)
ACT LIKE YOU CARE – Talk with Sasha Waltz, Burak Özdemir, Yeşim Gürer Oymak
Host: kainkollektiv & friends, Bochum
English/Turkish/Polish simultaneous translation provided
Registration https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_gUmfbf1OTfmJVP6UPIXBoQ
24 October 14.00 (CEST)
Host: İstanbul Women’s Museum
English/Turkish/Polish simultaneous translation provided
Registration https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2eCLR17tSWKlm0jx88lqtg
Additional events to be announced in the coming months.

Region and Enmity: A RaceB4Race Symposium, October 19-22, 2021

Region and Enmity: A RaceB4Race® Symposium
The symposium is being held virtually from October 19-22, 2021 and will include panels, informal coffee talks, an editor roundtable, and 1-on-1 sessions with invited editors.

Enmity is a sustaining force for systemic racism, a fervent antipathy toward a category of people. Enmity exists at the nexus of individual and group identity and produces difference by desiring opposition and supremacy, imagining separation by force, and willing conflict. Enmity unfolds in different ways in different places, according to local logics of territory, population, language, or culture, even as these geographical divisions are subject to constant change.

This interdisciplinary symposium, hosted by Rutgers University, focuses on how premodern racial discourses are tied to cartographical markers and ambitions. The notions of enmity and region provide a dual dynamic lens for tracing the racial repertoires that developed in response to increasingly hostile contention between premodern cultural and political forces. The symposium will invite scholars to take up this intersection between region and enmity, and to examine how belief in difference, or the emergence of polarizing structures and violent practices, configured race thinking and racial practices in ways that are both unique to different territories and that transcend them.

Register for the event: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/region-and-enmity-a-raceb4race-symposium-tickets-165791636247

Learn more about RaceB4Race: https://acmrs.asu.edu/RaceB4Race

24-25 septembre : XIIèmes Rencontres internationales des jeunes chercheurs en études byzantines

We have the pleasure of announcing with you that the 12th edition of the AEMB International Post-Graduate Conference will take place in Paris on the 24th and 25th of September. The theme of this year’s conference is “Time: Usage, Perception, and Interpretation in the Byzantine World”. There will be presentations given in both English and French. We hope to see you at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Room Fabri de Peiresc. If you are unable to be in Paris, you can attend via Zoom using the following links :
Lien zoom (Vendredi) :

Lien zoom (Samedi) :

Call for Papers – Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies 2022

The 21st Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies will take place at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio from March 24th–26th, 2022. Vagantes is an interdisciplinary community of junior scholars that offers an excellent opportunity for sharing new research. Submissions on non-Eurocentric topics or medievalism are also encouraged! Conference activities will include an opening recital, banquet, and various workshops. A keynote lecture will be given by Dr. Elina Gertsman (CWRU). Abstracts of 300 words with paper title and a 1–2 page CV (including applicant’s preferred name and pronouns) in one PDF are due Monday, November 29th, 2021.

CfP: “Self-Portrait in Byzantine Literature” – 5th “Parekbolai” Symposium (online)

5th “Parekbolai” Symposium on Byzantine Literature and Philology
December 10, 2021
“Self-Portrait in Byzantine Literature”

The e-journal Parekbolai invites paper proposals on “Self-Portrait in Byzantine Literature” for a virtual symposium to be held on December 10, 2021.

This call is open to and aimed at scholars in all stages of their career. Ph.D. candidates and postgraduate students are especially encouraged to apply.

Presentations (preferably in Greek or English) should last 20 minutes and abstracts (max. one page) should be submitted to: Ioannis Vassis (ivasssis@lit.auth.gr) or Sofia Kotzabassi (kotzabas@lit.auth.gr) by October 30, 2021.

CFP – Byzantium Bizarre: Storytelling through sacred spaces (Kalamazoo 2022)

Online: May 9, – May 14, 2022

Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, USA

Special Session:


Invitation: Submission of Abstracts

Deadline: 15 September 2021

We cordially invite the submission of abstracts for our session “Byzantium Bizarre: Storytelling through sacred spaces” at the 2022 International Congress on Medieval Studies, taking place online from May 9-14, 2022.

Church architecture, sacred locations and legend can produce a bizarre interplay in the late antique and Byzantine Mediterranean. Particularly interesting are extraordinary churches that tell a story or have a legend, tradition, or mythology attached to them, revealing the human fascination toward the bizarre. In our panel, we look forward to discussing these sociocultural aspects of Byzantine churches, particularly those linking material to the sacred spaces, architecture, and archaeology.

The role of storytelling is manifest in creating or reframing tradition and mythology, for example the Church of St. Symeon Stylites, or the repurposing of natural formations (e.g., Constantinian- period caves in Jerusalem). The attitudes and understandings of the monuments, both contemporary and modern, inform the knowledge of what makes their setting and architecture important. Through an archaeological and architectural analysis, we can understand sociocultural aspects of such monuments and their meanings. Our panel will examine examples of this relationship between legend and monument and their influences on each other to create a holy place throughout the Byzantine empire. Following the themes of mythology, legend, and storytelling, we invite papers discussing archaeological and architectural materiality and art historical objects, but also historical perspectives and liturgical specialties.

Please submit the abstract for your paper (300 words abstract plus a short description of 50 words) by September 15, 2021, through the conference portal at wmich.edu/medievalcongress/call.

We, Dr. des. Catherine Keane (ckeane8@gmail.com) and Dr. Katharina Palmberger (katharina.palmberger@gmail.com), the organizers of this panel, are happy to answer any of your questions.

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