Robert Ousterhout

We are deeply saddened that Robert Ousterhout, Professor Emeritus of History of Art, University of Pennsylvania, and renowned expert on Byzantine architecture, died peacefully at home on Sunday 23 April 2023, surrounded by family. He was a good friend to the SPBS, spoke at several Spring Symposia, and will be much missed by many of us.

Recordings of SPBS lectures

Our collection of recordings has been updated with three further lectures from 2021-2:

  • Re-thinking Late Antiquity as Early Christendom by Prof. Judith Herrin
  • The Byzantine Empire and the Shape of Afro-Eurasia Today (and Tomorrow) by Dr Rebecca Darley
  • Into the Labyrinth: A Journey into Stoudite “Cancel Culture” by Prof. Rosemary Morris

The 54th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies

The 54th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies

Material Religion in Byzantium and Beyond

17-19 March 2023, Corpus Christi College & All Souls College, Oxford

The 54th Annual Spring Symposium in Byzantine Studies will be held in Oxford on the theme of Material Religion in Byzantium and Beyond. The Symposium brings together Byzantine studies with a series of innovative approaches to the material nature and realities of religion – foregrounding the methodological, historical and archaeological problems of studying religion through visual and material culture. Taking a broad geographical and chronological view of the Byzantine world, the Symposium will range across Afro-Eurasia and from Antiquity to the period after the fall of Constantinople. Sessions will be arranged around the themes of ‘Objects in motion’, ‘Religion in 3D’, ‘Religious landscapes’, ‘Things without context’, ‘Things and their context’ and ‘Spatial approaches to religion’.

Confirmed speakers include: Béatrice Caseau, Paroma Chatterjee, Francesca Dell’Acqua, Ivan Foletti, David Frankfurter, Ildar Garipzanov, Troels M. Kristensen, Anne Lester, Birgit Meyer, Brigitte Pitarakis, Regula Schorta, Myrto Veikou, and Anne-Marie Yasin.

The Symposium will be hybrid, taking place at Oxford – Corpus Christi College and All Souls College –, and on Zoom.

Fees and registration:
– In person, for three days: Full: £130; Members of the SPBS: £110; Students/Unwaged: £60.
– In person, for one day: Full: £65; Members of the SPBS: £55; Students/Unwaged: £30.
– On-line: Full: £35; Members of the SPBS: £20; Students/Unwaged: £10

A booking form will soon be available online, on the Symposium website, with further details of registration and payment.

Jaś Elsner, Ine Jacobs, Julia Smith

SPBS ODA reduced membership rates

The SPBS is pleased to announce reduced membership rates for individuals who live, work, and permanently reside in 149 countries which are currently in receipt of support from the Office of Development Assistance.

The reduced membership rates are:

£10.00 per year for full membership
£5.00 per year for student membership

New members will receive the full benefits of SPBS membership and a PDF copy of the annual SPBS Bulletin.

For further information on how to apply, please see our membership page.

International Congress of Byzantine Studies Fund

The SPBS is pleased to announce that it is able to offer grants of up to £400 to support the attendance of UK postgraduate students and early career scholars at the International Congress of Byzantine Studies, Venice-Padua, 22-27 August 2022. The funding can be used to cover registration fees, as well as accommodation and travel costs.

Applicants are expected to be members of the SPBS at the time of application but are eligible for a reduced student membership rate.

Priority will be given to applicants who are currently unfunded and to those who are offering a communication.

The deadline for applications is Monday 27th June at 17:00 (UK).

For full details and application form can be found here.

Rethinking Late Antiquity as Early Christendom

Court Room, Senate House, Malet Street, WC1E 7HU
7 June 2022, 18:00

The SPBS, in association with the Hellenic Society and the Roman Society is pleased to announce a public lecture by Professor Judith Herrin, ‘Rethinking Late Antiquity as Early Christendom’.

If you are unable to attend the lecture in person, it will be streamed via Zoom. Please email Dr Fiona Haarer for joining instructions.

Spring Symposium Update

Please note the ‘Material Religion in Byzantium and Beyond’, the unfortunately postponed 54th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, will now take place on 17-19 March 2023. We encourage you to mark the date in your diary!

Assistance for Ukrainian Academics

The Council for At Risk Academics (CARA) is a UK-based organisation which offers academic, financial, and practical support, to academics and their families who are in immediate danger, forced into exile, or who continue to work in their home countries despite serious risk.

Several members of the Executive Committee of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies (SPBS) are affiliated with universities who are part of the CARA network. For further information on CARA and other resources available, please see (available in English, Ukrainian and Russian).

SPBS statment on the war in Ukraine

The Executive Committee of Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies strongly condemns Russia’s military assault on Ukraine. We stand with the people of Ukraine and with the people of Russia who oppose this war. In light of the repeated justificatory use of Byzantino-Rus history and monuments by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, we at the SPBS wish to affirm our support for scholars and scholarship of the Byzantine World that defies partisan, imperialist, and nationalist objectives. The study of early Rus has a long history in the United Kingdom, pioneered by figures such as Professor Dimitri Obolensky, and we at the SPBS are committed to promoting publications and scholarly exchanges on all aspects of the Byzantine World, including early Rus. As such, we have a compiled a short list of academic books by international authors (highlighting those from Ukraine) on early Rus, which may be of use to those interested in the academic study of this topic:

An introductory bibliography of early Rus…

  • Fedir Androshchuk, Jonathan Shepard, and Monica White (eds.), Byzantium and the Viking World (Uppsala, 2016)
  • Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepard, The Emergence of Rus 750-1200 (London, 1996)
  • Sean Griffin, The Liturgical Past in Byzantium and Early Rus (Cambridge, 2019)
  • Dimitri Obolensky, The Byzantine Commonwealth: Eastern Europe 500-1500 (London, 1971)
  • Ricardo Picchio and Harvey Goldblatt, Aspects of the Slavonic Languages: Formation and Development, vol. I and Church Slavonic – South Slavic – West Slavic, vol. II (New Haven, 1984)
  • Christian Raffensperger, Reimagining Europe. Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World (Cambridge, MA, 2012)
  • Sophia Senyk, A History of the Church in Ukraine. vol. I: To the End of the Thirteenth Century (Rome, 1993)
  • Jonathan Shepard, “Rus’,” in Christianization and the Rise of Christian Monarchy: Scandinavia, Central Europe and Rus’ c. 900-1200 (Cambridge, 2007), 369-414
  • Oleksiy Tolochko, Очерки начальной Руси (Kyiv, 2015)
  • Oleksiy Tolochko, ‘The Primary Chronicle’s ‘Ethnography’ Revisited: Slavs and Varangians in the Middle Dnieper Region and the Origin of the Rus’ State,’ in Franks, Northmen, and Slavs: Identities and State Formation in Early Medieval Europe (Brepols, 2008), 169-189.
  • Tatiana Vilkul, Люди и князь в древнерусских летописях середины XI-XIII вв. (Moscow, 2009)

The SPBS is committed to providing a platform for international scholars of Byzantine History, including those from Ukraine and Russia, and will continue to act as a venue for the peaceful exchange of ideas. During times of war the severing of ties between people is most acute and it is at this precise moment that academic collaboration must be maintained. The SPBS invites membership from international scholars, including those not resident in the UK.

We would also like to draw your attention to our on-going Solidarity Fund, which aims to provide full coverage for scholars based in Turkey (of any nationality) wishing to attend the 2022 International Byzantine Studies Congress in Venice/Padua: Applications from early career scholars resident in Turkey will be sent to the AIEB which will disburse the fund.

— Dr Alexandra Vukovich for the SPBS

Update: Spring Symposium

Dear Colleagues, dear Friends,

We are writing with an update on the upcoming 2022 SPBS Spring Symposium on Material Religion in Byzantium and Beyond.

After much consultation and deliberation, we have decided to postpone this year’s Spring Symposium to the Spring of 2023. Although we regret not being able to meet this year, continuing COVID19-related uncertainties and restrictions in the UK and beyond put the feasibility of meeting in person in doubt, and it has proved impossible to organise a viable hybrid format at this relatively short notice. We will post an announcement of the revised dates shortly.

Mindful that the 24th International Congress of Byzantine Studies meets in August 2022, the SPBS Executive Committee has agreed that there will be no symposium this year, and we are especially grateful to the organisers of the Spring Symposium scheduled for the year after Oxford (Kent, with Anne Alwis as Symposiarch) who have generously agreed to defer their meeting to 2024.

We are looking forward to welcoming you all in Oxford in the Spring of 2023.

Jaś Elsner, Ine Jacobs, Julia Smith