- Hagiography and the cult of saints
- Greek and Syriac Christianity
- Byzantine history
In 2016, I completed my doctoral thesis, which focused on the eastern Roman empire in the sixth and seventh centuries, and in particular on the cult of Symeon Stylites the Younger, an influential but little-studied holy man who lived in the sixth century near Antioch-on-the-Orontes. It analysed the various extant materials associated with his cult, including the sermons attributed to the stylite, and the hagiographic Lives of both Symeon and his mother Martha, to show its evolution from the saint’s lifetime into the period after his death when he was memorialised by his disciples. I argued that the troubled development of the cult reflects the crisis which the disasters that hit the eastern Roman empire in this period caused for holy men and their hagiographers, as they struggled to explain their failure to protect the empire and its inhabitants. My thesis was thus focused on the intersection between saints and society; between hagiography and history. I was particularly keen to show that historical and literary approaches to hagiography should be viewed as complementary, and indeed mutually co-dependent, rather than antithetical, as has often been assumed.
In 2016 I moved forward a millennium to work as a Research Associate, with a specialisation in Syriac, on the ERC-funded project ‘Stories of Survival: Recovering the Connected Histories of Eastern Christianity in the Early Modern World’. The project aims to explore diverse aspects of the little-studied Christian communities of the Ottoman Empire from c.1500 to c.1750. As well as working on a database of eastern Christian sources with the other members of the project team, I have conducted research into the Syriac Christian communities of the sixteenth century. I have focused in particular on questions of religious identity after the Chaldaean schism of 1552, on which I have published in the English Historical Review. I am preparing an edition of three unique Syriac poems by the second Chaldaean patriarch, Abdisho of Gazarta, about his murdered predecessor Yohannan Sulaqa.
This is not to say that I have lost my interest in late antiquity! I have published an article on the Life of Martha in the Journal of Early Christian Studies, and plan soon to convert my thesis into a monograph. I am also working on a translation with commentary of the Lives of both Symeon and Martha for Liverpool University Press’s Translated Texts for Historians series. In the academic year 2018-9 I have enjoyed the opportunity to teach a variety of medieval papers in my role as Departmental Lecturer.
I currently teach:
|European and World History 1||Further Subject 2: The Near East in the Age of Justinian and Muhammad|
|Disciplines of History|