A conversation with Efi Ragia (Hellenic Open University) on coming to grips with social class in Byzantium, a society without a fixed social hierarchy, at least not fixed in terms of hereditary groups. Claims to high (or low) social standing were often rhetorical and fluid. Who were "the powerful"? By what criteria could they be recognized, and how might others aspire to that position? The conversation is based on her article ‘Social Group Profiles in Byzantium: Some Considerations on Byzantine Perceptions about Social Class Distinctions,’ Byzantina Symmeikta 26 (2016) 309-372.
A conversation about digital humanities in Byzantine research, with Kuba Kabala (Davidson College). How did digital humanities emerge from traditional (analog) modes of research? What new approaches do they enable? What new findings do they make possible?
What did it take, and what did it do to you, to avoid the company of others in Byzantium? How far did you have to pare your life down, and how reliant were you still on networks of support and supply? A conversation with Ellen Muehlberger (University of Michigan: see episode 2) and David Brakke (Ohio State University: see episode 13) about trying to live alone in early Byzantium. We focus on ascetics, but not only on them.
A conversation with Tina Sessa (Ohio State University: see episode 4) and Kyle Harper (University of Oklahoma, author of The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, Princeton University Press 2017) on the Byzantine reactions to pandemics. What was the threshold of social visibility for a pandemic anyway? What could the government do to help? What imaginative and social resources were activated in times of pandemic?
A conversation with Jennifer Davis (Catholic University of America) on the study of empire in a medieval context, contrasting the different ways in which Charlemagne and the Byzantine emperors ran theirs. What do we mean by empire after all? The discussion is based on her book Charlemagne's Practice of Empire (Cambridge 2015).
A conversation with Buket Bayrı (Koç University) about Turkish films that prominently feature Byzantine characters and settings, especially the films about Battal Gazi. For links to these films, see the Textual Appendices to the podcast's host platform: https://byzantiumandfriends.podbean.com (on the right). For Buket's work in this area, see her articles 'Contemporary Perception of Byzantium in Turkish Cinema: The Cross-Examination of Battal Gazi Films with the Battalname,' Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 37 (2013) 81-91; and 'The 10th International Congress of Byzantines Studies, Istanbul, September 15-21, 1955,' Yillik: Annual of Istanbul Studies 1 (2019) 123-144.
A conversation with Cecily Hilsdale (McGill University) about the coping strategies that late Byzantium used to counter, ameliorate, and reverse its imperial decline. We talk about the concepts of decline and soft power, and how art, literature, scholarship, and religious identity were deployed strategically to win over potential allies and disseminate a prestige Byzantine "brand." The conversation is based on her book Byzantine Art and Diplomacy in an Age of Decline (Cambridge University Press 2014).
A conversation with Garth Fowden (University of Cambridge) about how the peoples of the Caucasus (Armenians, Georgians, and Albanians) coped with living between two empires, how those empires sought to intervene in their region, and the cultural and religious changes that took place there during the first half of the first millennium. This episode demonstrates the illuminating ways in which global and regional history can be combined. (For a detailed map of the region in this period, click here.)
A conversation with Elizabeth Key Fowden (University of Cambridge) on the Parthenon mosque and Athens under the Ottomans. When the Parthenon was done being a Christian church (which lasted from the fifth to the fifteenth century), it became a mosque, but little has been written about that phase of its history. Fascinating new sources are now coming to light. Elizabeth is writing a book on the topic; for now, see her articles 'The Parthenon, Pericles and King Solomon: A Case Study of Ottoman Archaeological Imagination in Greece,'Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies42 (2018) 261-274; and 'The Parthenon Mosque, King Solomon, and the Greek Sages,' in Ottoman Athens: Archaeology, Topography, History (Athens 2019) 67-95.
A conversation with Marion Kruse (University of Cincinnati) about his book The Politics of Roman Memory: From the Fall of the Western Empire to the Age of Justinian (University of Pennsylvania Press 2019). By what standards can anyone say that Roman history ends at some point and Byzantine history begins? Or is Byzantine history rather a phase of Roman history (namely, by far the longest one)? How did eastern authors, including Justinian, who lived in the aftermath of the end of empire in the West (476 AD), understand their place in the long trajectory of Roman history? And how do these labels function politically, for them and for us?