Conference Report: Space and Dimension in Late Antiquity and Byzantium

The Oxford University Byzantine Society’s 20th International Graduate Conference, ‘Space and Dimension in Late Antiquity and Byzantium’, 23-24 February 2018.

On 23-24 February 2018 the Oxford University Byzantine Society held its 20th International Graduate Conference at Oxford University’s Faculty of History. The event was generously funded by the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies, as well as the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research, the Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity, and the Haskin’s Society. It was attended by students and researchers from UK and international universities.

The conference, which is entirely organised by a student committee, runs annually, and is intended as an opportunity for graduate students (both at doctoral and masters level) to present their research to their peers in an informal setting. This year’s conference was on the theme ‘Space and Dimension in Late Antiquity and Byzantium’. The choice of theme was intended to mitigate a problem of previous conferences, which have been dominated by papers on Byzantine literature and textual history, by encouraging papers on Byzantine art, architecture, archaeology, and material culture.

Papers were given on topics as diverse as domestic space in Late Antiquity and Demonology in Byzantine hagiography. The OUBS is committed to expanding the boundaries of ‘Late Antique and Byzantine Studies’ and we believe that the discipline should play a main role in the ‘global turn’ in medieval history. As a result, we were particularly pleased that many of the speakers chose to focus on the so-called ‘peripheries’ of the Late Antique and Byzantine worlds. For example, papers were given on the 11th century, Italian Brebion of Reggio, on Roman-Sassanian frontier politics, on Cappodocian church architecture, and on Visigothic legal practice. Still more papers engaged with the Byzantine Empire’s neighbours, with lively discussion accompanying papers about Armenian economic history, Syriac Christology, Islamic philosophy, and religious ritual in Rus’. Speakers came from institutions world-wide, some of which had not been represented before at the conference, and many commented on how much they had enjoyed presenting their research and making connections with colleagues.

The proceedings of the conference are currently being prepared for publication.

The organising committee would once again like to express their thanks to the SPBS for its support of the conference.

Adele Curness
St John’s College, Oxford
President, Oxford University Byzantine Society

Sydney Taylor
Lincoln College, Oxford

Constanta Burlacu
Wolfson College, Oxford