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 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?
14. A conversation with Stephen Morris (independent scholar) about the attitudes toward (male) homosexuality in different sites of Byzantine culture and the prospects for an orthodox recognition of same-sex marriages, based on his book “When Brothers Dwell in Unity”: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality (McFarland & Company 2016).
13. The case for Shenute the Great and the Coptic tradition, with Sofia Torallas Tovar and David Brakke
A conversation with Sofia Torallas Tovar (University of Chicago) and David Brakke (The Ohio State University) about Coptic Egypt, the life and works of Shenute the Great, and how Coptic and Byzantine Studies can talk more with each other, just as the people they study talked to each other in the fourth-seventh centuries. For some of Shenute's works, see the Selected Discourses of Shenoute the Great: Community, Theology, and Social Conflict in Late Antique Egypt, translated by David Brakke and Andrew Crislip (Cambridge University Press 2015). For linguistic contacts, see Sofia Torallas Tovar, 'The Reverse Case: Egyptian Borrowing in Greek,' in Greek Influence on Egyptian-Coptic: Contact-Induced Change in an Ancient African Language (Hamburg 2017) 97-113.
A conversation with Siren Çelik (Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University) about the new generation of Turkish Byzantine scholars, and the paths by which one might come to study Byzantium in Turkey and beyond.
A conversation with Steven Smith (Hofstra University) about worldly and sinful epigrams from the sixth century that talk about love, sex, food, and other pleasures, based on his book Greek Epigram and Byzantine Culture: Gender, Desire, and Denial in the Age of Justinian (Cambridge University Press 2019). For a translation of a sample of these epigrams, see https://byzantiumandfriends.podbean.com/p/byzantine-erotic-epigrams-of-the-sixth-century/.
Could one rise from a provincial town to a position of power and wealth in the capital without having a military career? How did Byzantine men of affairs in the eleventh century invest their new-found wealth and create networks of exchange internal to their estates? What was the role of the state in buttressing these "self-made" men? A conversation with Dimitris Krallis (Simon Fraser University), based on his book Serving Byzantium’s Emperors: The Courtly Life and Career of Michael Attaleiates (Palgrave MacMillan 2019).
A conversation with Paroma Chatterjee (University of Michigan) on Indian perspectives and approaches to Byzantium. What we might be taking for granted in a field whose appeal has been traditionally limited to Europe and its offshoots? What might a global (as opposed to "ecumenical") Byzantium look like? This is the first in what I hope will be a number of conversations.
A conversation with Bissera Pentcheva (Stanford University) about the sensory and spiritual experience of Hagia Sophia, where architecture, sound, and light met theology and prayer, based on her book Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space, and Spirit in Byzantium (Pennsylvania State University Press 2017). For the associated video, go to https://vimeo.com/365102931 (password: HS2018).