Call for Papers: New Approaches to Medieval Romance from the Eastern Mediterranean and Beyond c. 1100-1500

University of Birmingham, 5 December 2019

Deadline: 7 November 2019

In recent decades, the study of medieval romance literature has benefited from the application of new theoretical and methodological approaches, ranging from gender historical perspectives to global and ecocritical theory. However, in comparison with the still wider body of literature dedicated to western medieval romance, the Byzantine romances remain a relatively under-studied group of texts. Despite clear evidence of intertextuality between the romance literature of Byzantium and other parts of the medieval world, much work remains to be done in order to understand how the romances are situated within their historical, literary, and social contexts, on both the Byzantine and global medieval stage. This workshop aims to examine the value of new historical or literary approaches to these texts, and ultimately consider them from a multidisciplinary perspective. What can new perspectives on the Byzantine romance tell us about the world in which they were created? What can be learned from the theoretical approaches being applied to romance literature from other parts of the medieval world? What links exist between Byzantine romance and romantic texts from other medieval cultures, and what do these reveal about the broader literary and cultural networks of that time?

This workshop will focus on discussion of short papers. We welcome proposals for papers of ca. 15 minutes investigating the romance from any methodological perspective, and focusing on romances from any part of the medieval world. The romance, here, is defined broadly as encompassing the genres of love poetry and epic stories with romantic elements. The event will take place over one day on Thursday 5 December 2019 at the University of Birmingham.

The workshop will conclude with a keynote lecture from Elizabeth Jeffreys (Oxford), as part of the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies’ annual lecture series. Please send abstracts of no more than 150 words to by 7 November 2019.

Potential topics for discussion might include, but are not limited to:
• Comparative/ intertextual approaches to medieval romance
• Rhetorical techniques in romance literature
• Global perspectives on medieval romance
• The romances in their political and religious contexts
• Social historical approaches to the romance, focusing on themes such as:
◦ Gender and sexuality
◦ Race/ethnic identities
◦ Marginalisation and (dis)ability

This workshop will take place at the University of Birmingham on Thursday 5th December 2019 and finish with a lecture from Elizabeth Jeffreys as part of the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies’ annual lecture series.

Conference: Historical Inertia: Continuity in the Face of Change 500-1500 CE

University of Edinburgh, 22-23 November 2019

Historical discourse has long concerned itself with patterns of change and discontinuity to demonstrate and validate models of periodisation and the compartmentalisation of the wider historical field. Building on these themes, this conference has chosen to focus on the opposing view by concentrating on inertia – how history, material culture, ideas and communities can be seen to maintain a stayed course or deviate if a significant force is exerted upon it. Inertia, a concept that has yet to be applied to mainstream Late Antique studies, introduces perspectives and frameworks that permit new approaches to traditional processes.

This conference will be hosted by the Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Society of the University of Edinburgh on the 22-23 November 2019 and will tackle the notion of inertia and the implications accompanying it for Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine history from 500-1500 CE. The two keynote lectures will be delivered by Dame Professor Averil Cameron (Oxford) and Professor Jack Tannous (Princeton).

For registration and programme, see

Call for Papers: Fourteenth International Conference of Iconographic Studies

Rijeka, Croatia, 28-29 May 2020

Deadline: 15 January 2020

Iconography and Hagiography
Visualizing Holiness

The range of literary sources that concern the saints has been immensely wide over the long period of time and has presented central feature of the Christian literary and visual culture. This conference seeks to explore the ways and mechanisms of the translation of these sources in visual language in Eastern and Western Christianity. Scholars are invited to present proposals on different topics on the relation between hagiography and iconography. Academic papers that will approach these subjects from interdisciplinary and methodologically diverse angles are welcome. The themes and subjects include:

– lives, martyr acts, hagiographical romances, and edifying tales represented in visual arts in East and West
Legenda aurea and iconographic programs
– individualization vs. generalization in hagiography and iconography
– group representations of saints as reflections (or not) of the universal or local pantheon
– question and role of gender in visualizing sanctity
– saintly bodies in visual arts – relics, spectacles, perfomances, and religious devotion
– new research instruments for hagiographical texts and images – new technologies, digitisation, data-bases and open access repositories
– iconography of new saints – visual/textual representation of contemporary holy persons – a reflection of his/her personality, given the availability of biographic information, or conformism to universal patterns
– popular iconography in the age of the printing press (such as for example holy cards from the 17th century – Antwerp – and 19th century – Saint-Sulpice)
– saints and the new media – how images (photo’s, movies, comic books etc.) on the web, Facebook, Instagram, etc. function in relation the hagiographical texts, classical lives and legends, and their narrative strategies

Paper proposals should be submitted electronically to by January 15, 2020

A paper proposal should contain:
1. full name, institution, affiliation, address, phone number, e-mail address
2. title
3. abstract (maximum 2 pages – 500 words)

Invitations to participate will be sent out by email before February 15, 2020

There is NO registration fee

Administration and organizational costs, working materials, lunch and coffee breaks during conference, closing dinner as well as all organized visits are covered by the organizers.
The presented papers will be published in the thematic issue of IKON – journal of iconographic studies in May 2021.

Please contact us for any additional information
Contact person:
Antonia Zurga
Center for Iconographic Studies
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Rijeka
Sveucilisna avenija 4, 51 000 Rijeka, Croatia
web page:

Call for Papers: Armenia & Byzantium Without Borders III

Graduate and Early Career Workshop

Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria, 8–10 May 2020

Deadline: 31 October 2019

Within the framework of ‘Moving Byzantium: Mobility, Microstructure and Personal Agency,’ a five-year project funded through the Wittgenstein-Prize (, ‘Armenia & Byzantium without Borders III’ is a three-day workshop focusing on social and cultural mobility between Armenia and Byzantium in the Middle Ages. This workshop continues a scholarly conversation initiated in April 2018 at the University of Vienna by Dr. Emilio Bonfiglio and Prof. Claudia Rapp and now run in joint partnership with Dr. David Zakarian and Prof. Theo Maarten van Lint at the University of Oxford. The 2020 Workshop will be held at the Division of Byzantine Research, Institute for Medieval Research, of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

We invite advanced PhD candidates and early career scholars working in the fields of Late Antique, Armenian, Byzantine, and Middle Eastern Studies to submit proposals for 20 min. papers connected with the main topics of ‘Moving Byzantium’, with a focus on aspects of social and cultural mobility of persons, objects, and/or ideas between Armenia and Byzantium throughout the Middle Ages. We are particularly interested in new research showing interaction and communication on both literary and material grounds between the Byzantine world and the Armenians.

Papers presented at the workshop will be accompanied by a senior scholar’s 10 min. response, followed by a general discussion. The workshop will be inaugurated with the lecture of our keynote speaker, Dr. Tim Greenwood from the University of St Andrews.

Travel and accommodation expenses of scholars selected for presentation at the workshop will be covered by the ‘Moving Byzantium’ project.

Paper proposals including:
· University affiliation
· Graduate level
· Title of the paper
· Abstract (300 words max)
· CV

Must be sent by the 31st of October 2019 to Dr. Emilio Bonfiglio ( and our project-coordinator Dr. Paraskevi Sykopetritou (

The 53rd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies

University of Birmingham, 28-30 March 2020

Nature and the environment underpinned Byzantine life but have been little studied. How the Byzantines responded to, interacted with and understood the landscape, however, enables crucial new insights into East Roman perceptions of the world. Modern interest in the environment and eco-history makes this theme pertinent and timely. Current research on climate change and how it affected the East Mediterranean creates new paradigms for our understanding of Byzantine interactions with the environment. The 53rd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies draws together Byzantine literary and visual responses to nature and the environment as well as showcasing the most recent scientific research on historical climate change and environmental management in Byzantium.

This symposium was planned by Dr Ruth Macrides (University of Birmingham) and will be dedicated to her memory. The first two sessions of the symposium will consist of tributes to Ruth’s life and career by her former students and colleagues.

The Symposium will be followed, on Monday afternoon (30 March), by the second in what is planned as a regular series of professional development workshops targeted at Byzantine postgraduate students and sponsored by the SPBS. The workshop, Climate, environment and history, is intended to help early career academics in the humanities familiarize themselves with some of the key aspects of studying the way past human societies have interacted with their physical and climatic environments. Presenters will explain key methodological and interpretational issues and discuss how to avoid misunderstanding or misusing palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic research results.

Information about registration, accommodation and communications will be released in November 2019.

Conference: Mapping the Sacred in Byzantium: Construction, Experience and Representation

Newcastle University, 20-21 September 2019

Registration Deadline: 8 September 2019

The “spatial turn” of the past decades has not only revived interest in space as an object of academic inquiry, but also contributed to new ways of understanding it. Notions of space as a territorially fixed and clearly delimited and confined container or background for human action have been challenged by the works of scholars such as Lefebvre or Bakhtin. Anthropological and sociological frameworks have emphasised the production and organisation of space as social processes through which meanings and narratives (sometimes conflicting) are created and ascribed. Spaces are thus permeated by, and shape, beliefs, ideas and meaning, which reflect on their configuration, as well as the use and symbolic value they are socially given. Novel approaches have focused on the experience and expression of emotional responses engendered by spaces, such as spiritual empowerment, as the social has given way to the personal experience of constructing, perceiving and perpetuating space. For the particular case of creating sacred space, Lidov’s hierotopic vision has brought to the fore the performative spatial aspect of iconic imagery. Likewise, in literary texts, spatial representation is not only understood as an indispensable canvas for the plot, but as a vehicle for cultural meaning, norms and hierarchies of values. Consequently, space sheds light on cultural environment and lived experience. This conference brings together scholars of Byzantium to explore new ways to think of, and assess, the construction, experience and representation of sacred space in Byzantium, aiming to contribute to the research on spatial paradigms and practices. It addresses spatial themes, both theoretically and empirically, from the perspective of literary studies, with insights from archaeology, art history and theology.

Further information and a full programme can be found at:

Registration is online here.

Call for Papers: Inspiration and Institution in Christian History

Ecclesiastical History Society Winter Meeting, Carr’s Lane Chapel, Birmingham, 18 January 2020

Deadline: 31 October 2019

The Winter Meeting continues with the 58th Summer Conference theme of Inspiration and Institution. As ever, the intention is to attract a broad spectrum of papers from across the history of Christianity.

Since the apostolic age, the history of Christianity and Christian churches has seen a constant dialectic between inspiration and institution: how the ungoverned spontaneity of Spirit-led religion negotiates its way through laws, structures and communities. If institutional frameworks are absent or insufficient, new, creative and dynamic expressions of Christianity can disappear or collapse into disorder almost as quickly as they have flared up. If those frameworks are excessively rigid or punitive, they can often quench the spirit of any new movements. Without dynamic movements of this kind, even well-functioning church institutions struggle to avoid sclerosis. And once institutionalised, inspirational movements can change their nature remarkably quickly, whether by calcifying or by settling down from sectarian unruliness into denominational respectability.

The deadline for proposals of 20-minute papers on the theme is 31 October 2019. For full details, see

Call for Papers: Acts of Excommunication in the Late Antique and Early Islamicate Middle East

Leiden University, Netherlands, 12-13 March 2020

Deadline: 1 October 2019

As part of the ERC-funded project, “Embedding Conquest, Naturalising Muslim Rule (600-1000)”, at Leiden University, this conference aims to bring together both senior and junior scholars to present research which illuminates the dynamics implicit in the act of excommunication and associated practices: ostracism, anathema, and other forms of religio-social exclusion, among the major religious communities of the Islamicate world, 600-1200 CE: including various Christian and Jewish denominations, Sunni, Shiʿi, ‘Khārijī’ and other groups within Islam; Zoroastrians and other relevant groups.

The workshop will focus on “acts of excommunication”, meaning that its primary focus will be specific cases, whether real or imagined, which display the dynamics and implications of excommunicatory practices. The discussion of specifc (pseudo-) documents is particularly encouraged. While participants will be asked to focus on specific cases, they should show how these examples illuminate the larger frameworks within which their cases occurred.

Topics to be covered might include the following:

· Excommunicatory statements in contracts and oaths
· Excommunication as a tool in managing institutional hierarchies and hierocracies
· Maximal and minimalist excommunication
· Exclusions from ritual, social activities, trade, place and space
· Political rebels
· Overlapping or contested jurisdictions
· Enforcement issues
· Excommunication at centre and periphery
· Conversion and apostasy

Scholars of Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam often study excommunication in separate silos, developing separate vocabularies and models. However, during the early Islamic period, these communities shared space and ideas. When compared, various contexts (theology, ritual, eschatology, social mores) indicate isomorphisms which suggest that different religious communities were as connected as they were divided.

Excommunication is a tool of coercion, and as such, it deserves to be studied in comparative context which might highlight the operation of intersecting power dynamics in society.

This workshop aims to move beyond the idea that acts of excommunication were purely the result of theological issues. Instead, this workshop aims to explore acts of excommunication as social and political as well as religious practice, with important implications for activities in local communities, but also for interactions with wider society and with governing authorities within the early Islamic empire.

While the theological, doctrinal and legal backdrop are important, an act of excommunication does not simply flow from the conceptual force of a doctrinal transgression, but rather it is situated within a set of overlapping fields which may include economic, institutional, familial, political, ethnic, linguistic and generational aspects. These fields, in turn, contributed to how an act of excommunication came to be interpreted and positioned within evolving systems of law, theology and doctrine.

The output of this workshop will be an open-access special issue on the topic of excommunication in and around the early Islamicate empire, to be published in Al-ʿUsur al-Wusta: The Journal of Middle East Medievalists.

Contributions to this workshop will be understood to be works in progress, with final versions to be submitted for the special issue. Please send an abstract of around 300 words to by October 1st, 2019. Pre-circulation of papers will not be necessary, but final versions of papers for publication will be requested by September 2020. If you are unable to attend the workshop, but would be interested in submitting to the special issue, please indicate this.

Conference: Women and Violence in the Late Medieval Mediterranean, ca. 1100-1500

Maison Française d’Oxford, 27-28 September 2019

The last decades have witnessed an increased interest in research on the relationship between women and violence in the Middle Ages, with new works both on female criminality and on women as victims of violence. The contributions of gender theory and feminist criminology have renewed the approached used in this type of research. Nevertheless, many facets of the complex relationship between women and violence in medieval times still await to be explored in depth. This conference aims to understand how far the roots of modern assumptions concerning women and violence may be found in the late medieval Mediterranean, a context of intense cultural elaboration and exchange which many scholars have indicated as the cradle of modern judicial culture. While dialogue across the Mediterranean was constant in the late Middle Ages, occasions for comparative discussion remain rare for modern-day scholars, to the detriment of a deeper understanding of the complexity of many issues. Thus, we encourage specialists of different areas across the Mediterranean (Western Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic world) to contribute to the discussion. What were the main differences and similarities? How did these change through time? What were the causes for change? Were coexisting assumptions linking femininity and violence conflicting or collaborating?

The conference will take place over two days thanks to the generous contributions of The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, the Maison Française d’Oxford, and the UMR Orient- Mediterranée Monde Byzantin.

Keynote speakers:
Professor Carol Lansing (UC Santa Barbara)
Professor Élisabeth Malamut (Université de Provence)
Conclusion by Professor Annick Peters-Custot (Université de Nantes)

Attendance is free of charge and open to all. To secure your place to attend this conference, please register here.

Full programme available here.