This week’s featured project: Saints and Scholars

12th April 2024

A team of experts on the cults of Christian saints across the medieval Mediterranean — James Corke-Webster at King’s and Anne Alwis at Kent — have proposed a topic for interested applicants called Saints and Scholars: The Development of Byzantine Hagiography. Here they give a litte more information about it:

Hagiographies — the lives of those Christians considered saints — were the most prolific production of the late antique, medieval and Byzantine worlds. But familiarity has bred contempt. Beyond the traditional search for authenticity and more recent mining for social historical information, this vast nexus of intertwined texts and traditions has lain collecting dust. But this very fecundity offers opportunities of which we’re hoping you can take advantage. These hagiographies spread across the entire Mediterranean, from the third century on, morphing and evolving in a wide range of linguistic traditions. Focusing on a particular figure or theme thus provides a contained space within which to explore change across time, and space and language. Moreover, the preservation of these tales in physical manuscripts, too often not considered as material objects, means that they also offers a contained space to investigate changing technologies of knowledge across the same variables. We want candidates to bring us ideas for focused projects within the deliberately broad scope we’ve mapped out, which combine these two dimensions, and thus make innovative use of the hagiography to enhance our understanding of the late antique, medieval, and Byzantine worlds more broadly. Some experience with working with literary texts from these periods would be useful, as would any experience with palaeography, but training will be offered in both.

image credit: Luke writing from a Bible historiale, New York: Morgan Library, MS. M.323 II, fol. 192