TORCH New Critical Approaches to the Byzantine World

Byzantine studies have not generally tended to be at the cutting edge of theoretical or methodological innovation. A host of more prosaic, albeit essential, scholarly tasks have tended to dominate a discipline in which large bodies of text remain unedited, untranslated, and uncommented and many basic lexical, prosopographical, and typological tools are still lacking. Nevertheless, in recent years new critical and theoretical studies of Byzantium have started to emerge, perhaps most notably in the study of narrative, materiality, and intellectual history. These studies, however, remain both relatively rare and (more often than not) confined to a single sub-disciplinary field (e.g. literature, archaeology, or history).

This network aims to promote new critical approaches to the study of the Byzantine world and to join up such approaches as exist, by cutting across the chronological, geographical, linguistic, nationalist, and disciplinary fissures that have institutionalised the fragmentation of Byzantine studies into discrete domains of enquiry. We seek to do this by developing a platform for engaged scholars, with different disciplinary trainings, to discuss the theoretical and methodological challenges facing them, test their own research in a supportive environment, and to exploit the opportunities that new critical approaches offer the study of the Byzantine world (broadly conceived).

Our events therefore will not start from a disciplinary or regional core but will address major theoretical questions that unite studies of different periods, places and bodies of materials. These conceptual spheres include but are not limited to imperialism, colonialism and post-colonialism, questions of object/text and context, questions of gender, materialism and materiality in Byzantine studies.

The network is explicitly imagined as a collective venture. As well as testing new critical approaches in the study of the Byzantine world, we seek to be equally critical in rethinking the way we do Byzantine studies. In this spirit, the network understands the testing less hierarchical forms of knowledge exchange and new technologies for collaborative research to be integral elements of the network’s aims. It is led by early career researchers.


Mirela Ivanova:
Alexandra Vukovich:

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