Studying East of Byzantium VI: The State of the Field


Valentina Calzolari, Université de Genève
Christina Maranci, Tufts University

Studying East of Byzantium VI: The State of the Field is a two-day workshop that intends to bring together doctoral students in North America studying the Christian East to reflect on the state of the field across its many disciplines, to share methodologies, and to discuss their research with senior specialists in the field. The workshop continues the efforts of East of Byzantium, the partnership between the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture at Hellenic College Holy Cross and the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara T. Oztemel Chair of Armenian Art at Tufts University, to foster an interdisciplinary community of early career scholars engaged in the study of the diverse traditions of the medieval Christian East, including Syria, the South Caucasus, Mesopotamia, and Egypt.

In the introduction to the 1982 volume East of Byzantium: Syria and Armenia in the Formative Period, edited by Nina G. Garsoïan, Thomas F. Mathews, and Robert W. Thomson, the editors wrote:

It was understood that the formative period in the Christian traditions of Syria and Armenia would be a subject of special interest to Byzantinists; Syria and Armenia were ever a stimulus and a thorn in the side of the Byzantine Empire. Nevertheless, our focus has not been on their impact on Byzantine culture, but on the distinctive traditions of their geographical area in and for themselves.

Noteworthy is the stated goal: to demonstrate how Armenia and Syria were not only a “stimulus” or “thorn” in the side of Byzantium, but important “in and for themselves.” We invite PhD students in North America from any discipline to participate in a discussion of how—almost four decades later—the study of the Christian East developed in relation to this goal. An additional goal of the workshop is to consider how the field of East Christian studies has developed in North America and how it intersects with or diverges from the field in Europe.

Workshop Format
The workshop will be led by Valentina Calzolari (Université de Genève, Département des langues et des littératures Méditerranéennes, Slaves, et Orientales) and Christina Maranci (Tufts University, History of Art and Architecture). Full papers will be submitted to workshop participants in advance. Each participant will deliver a 20- to 25-minute presentation based on her/his paper. Individual presentations will be followed by a 10-minute response by Professors Calzolari or Maranci and a general discussion.

Interested students should submit a C.V. and a 200-word abstract for a conference paper, part of a dissertation chapter, article, etc. reflecting on questions of historiography through the East of Byzantium website no later than Friday, December 13, 2019. Papers might address such topics as how your scholarly questions and goals diverge or align with those of earlier scholars, what methods and sources are you using, or how your project fits into an evolving literature on eastern Christendom.

Complete Papers
Papers should not exceed 5,000 words in length including footnotes. Complete papers must be submitted to all workshop participants no later than Thursday, February 13, 2020.

The workshop will be held at Tufts University on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14, 2020.

For participants who do not live in the Boston area, accommodations will be provided. Additionally, for those who cannot obtain financial support from their home institution and would otherwise be unable to attend up to $400 may be requested towards travel costs. Travel funds will be in the form of reimbursements. Participants must submit receipts for travel and complete a reimbursement in order to receive travel funds. Applicants should submit a short statement requesting travel funding with their abstracts.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided on both days. Participants are invited to a causal dinner with the workshop leaders on Friday, March 13.

Friday, December 13, 2019: Abstracts due
Friday, December 20, 2019: Organizers notify workshop applicants of status
Thursday, February 13, 2020: Complete papers due
Friday, March 13–Saturday, March 14, 2020: Workshop


Dayr Mār Mūsā al-Ḥabashi, Syria, detail of west wall of the nave, layer 3, ca. 1200.
Blog at