Recovering Our Byzantine Inheritance

Pantocrator Face

“Byzantium” is surely a word to conjure with. For some it evokes a romantic “holy city” with its lords and ladies, drowsy Emperor, and Grecian goldsmiths of W. B. Yeats’ poem “Sailing to Byzantium”. For others, the forbidding and enormous complexity of the pejorative adjective “byzantine” might come to mind. What the terms “Byzantium” and “Byzantine” really represent, however, are modern attempts to define and come to terms with the epic, millennium-long story of the eastern Roman empire’s tumultuous journey through the Middle Ages. Until the middle decades of the fifteenth century, when their civilization and their capital city of Constantinople was finally absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, these people thought of themselves as “Romans” and, as the successors to Constantine, the true defenders of Christian orthodoxy.


Protopresbyter John Meyendorff, Professor of Byzantine History at Fordham University (1967-1992)

Byzantine studies first came to Fordham in 1967, when Protopresbyter John Meyendorff, a theologian of the Orthodox church arrived to become Professor of Byzantine History. Meyendorff, the scion of a noble Russian émigré family who was born and educated in France, had already been a professor at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, Harvard University, and at Dumbarton Oaks before joining Fordham’s faculty.

Although Meyendorff left Fordham in 1984 and died in 1992, we think he would have been particularly

Professor George Demacopoulos, John Meyendorff & Patterson Family Chair of Orthodox Studies at Fordham University

Professor George Demacopoulos, John Meyendorff & Patterson Family Chair of Orthodox Studies at Fordham University

proud to know about the exciting events of this month, which mark a true renaissance for Byzantine studies at Fordham. Monday, October 5, sees Fordham Theology faculty member Professor George Demacopoulos installed as the Father John Meyendorff & Patterson Family Chair of Orthodox Christian Studies. Professor Demacopoulos’s talk, entitled “War, Violence, and the Feast of the Holy Cross in Byzantium” will take place at 5:30PM in the 1st Floor Auditorium of Keating Hall.

This happy event will be followed, on October 22-25, by the annual Byzantine Studies Association of North America Conference, hosted jointly by Columbia University, the CUNY Graduate Center, and Fordham. A link to the program can be found here, note that Friday’s sessions will be held at CUNY, Saturday and Sunday’s at Fordham (Thursday evening’s plenary is at Casa Italiana, Columbia).

Leave a Comment

Filed under Events

Lectures in Honor of Chris Schmidt-Nowara (1966-2015) Pioneer of Transatlantic and Antislavery Hispanic Caribbean Studies

Please join the Fordham History Department as it celebrates the life and work of Chris Schmidt-Nowara with a series of lectures, panels, and discussions on the fascinating variety of topics to which he dedicated his career. The first event will be held Monday, October 5, at 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, 2nd Floor – Costantino Room (Fordham Law School). In collaboration with the United Nations, the Burial Database Project of Enslaved Americans and LALSI present Truth: Women, Creativity and the Memory of Slavery, with distinguished women artists and scholars from the Americas. The panel will discuss the representation of  slavery by women artists of African descent throughout the Americas.  Participating artists and scholars include:Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro
Novelist, Poet & Short-Story Writer

Aimee Meredith Cox, Cultural Anthropologist
Associate Chair, Depart. of African & African Amer. Studies, Fordham University

Nicole Fleetwood, Associate Professor
American Studies, Rutgers University

Yuko Miki, Assistant Professor
Iberian Atlantic History

Iyunolu Osagie, Associate Professor
English, Penn State

Gabriela Salgado, African & Latin American Contemporary Art Curator
London, UK

Deborah Willis, Photographer
Chair, Depart. of Photography & Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU

Read on to find out about further events this semester…

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Department Events, Events, Faculty News, In Memoriam

A “Heterotopia”: Recalling a Summer Institute with Cultural Historian Christine Kelly

We’ve posted here before about the wonderful opportunities provided to Fordham graduate students and faculty by the Futures of American Studies Institute at Dartmouth. PhD Candidate Christine Kelly sent us these reflections of her time at the institute– her training as a cultural historian gives her a unique perspective on the value of these interdisciplinary gatherings.  Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Grad Student News, Student Awards

PhD Candidate Brandon Gauthier On The Fun and Reward of Academic Travel

Brandon Gauthier at the World Congress for Korean Politics and Society, August 2015

Brandon Gauthier at the World Congress for Korean Politics and Society, August 2015

Brandon Gauthier, a PhD candidate in the History Department, traveled to South Korea this past summer where he presented personal research and reconnected with the culture he intimately studies. Here is what Brandon has to say about the trip…

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Grad Student News, Publications, Student Awards

Christopher Maginn on Discovering a Manuscript and his New Book: “The Tudor Discovery of Ireland”


Professor Christopher Maginn recently co-authored The Tudor Discovery of Ireland; a text that analyzes how the Tudor family–and by extension Elizabeth I’s councilor William Cecil–came to understand Ireland’s history, people, and geography. What’s even cooler? Maginn, and co-author Steven G. Ellis, based their analysis on a previously unknown manuscript that Maginn found. Let’s see what Professor Maginn has to say on his new book, co-authoring, and the process of writing …

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Faculty Awards, Faculty News, Publications

H-Net Commons: A multidisciplinary forum for publishing, learning, and sharing

Looking for faster and easier ways to publish? Want to interact with people in your field from all over the world? H-Net Commons is such a source for historians everywhere.  Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Digital Resources, Grad Student News, Publications

Isabel Hull to Speak on WWI and International Law, 9/24 at 4PM KE 319

“Just for a word — “neutrality,” a word which in war time had so often been disregarded — just for a scrap of paper Great Britain was going to make war on a kindred nation who desired nothing better than to be friends with her.”

– Theobald Bethmann Hollweg, German Chancellor

“Have any of you any of those neat little Treasury £1 notes? If you have, burn them; they are only scraps of paper. What are they made of? Rags. What are they worth? The whole credit of the British Empire.”

– David Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer


Hull book cover



On Thursday, September 24 at 4PM join the History department in Keating 319 for a talk by Isabel Hull, the John Stambaugh Professor of History at Cornell University. Professor Hull’s talk is entitled, “Rethinking the First World War Through the Lens of International Law”.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Department Events

Maryanne Kowaleski Begins Prestigious Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard University


Last Spring, Maryanne Kowaleski, Joseph Fitzpatrick S.J. Distinguished Professor of History and Medieval Studies was selected to hold a prestigious residential fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advances Studies at Harvard University to pursue her project entitled Living by the Sea: An Ethnography of Maritime Communities in Medieval England. The Radcliffe Institute fellowship competition  is international in scope, and fellowships are awarded to only 3% of applicants. As Professor Kowaleski begins her fellowship year, let’s find out more about her project and the Radcliffe Institute where she will be based.  Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Faculty Awards, Faculty News

What do historians do in the summertime? Postcard from Dartmouth

Statue of Robert Frost, Dartmouth College

Statue of Robert Frost, Dartmouth College

The summer provides scholars with opportunities to get together and workshop their research at institutes, seminars, and symposia  intended to foster group discussions on discrete topics like theory and methodology. For students of American History, one of the best opportunities to meet and discuss their work is the Futures of American Studies Summer Institute. This year, students and faculty from Fordham were invited to apply to participate in the Dartmouth institute with support from the Fordham Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Among the community of Fordham Americanists who participated was Glenn Hendler, Associate Professor and Chair of the English Department, who gave a talk entitled ““The Civil War and the Ends of the State.” Also among the Fordham delegation was History PhD student Stephen Leccese, who presented work in progress on nineteenth-century mass consumption and economic thought. Stephen sent us this postcard with details of his experience at the institute.

The best part was workshopping a paper at the Institute. We broke into seminar sessions of about 10 people each in the afternoons. Each day 2 or 3 people read a paper they were working on- it could have been a dissertation chapter, an article proposal, or anything else. I read “Nineteenth-Century Economic Thought and New Perspectives on the Rise of Mass Consumption,” a slight revision of the paper I worked on during our Research Colloquium. I got some very interesting feedback from people outside my field, since about 95% of the seminar participants were from English or Literary Studies departments. While I was skeptical about how helpful their comments would be, I was surprised at how interested they were in a work of history. They provided some great suggestions that I will certainly be adding into my paper as I work on it further.

The Dartmouth campus at night

The Dartmouth campus at night

Overall it was a very welcoming environment. Highly accomplished scholars, early career academics, advanced and early PhD students all interacted together without any sort of hierarchy. Even though I was in a different discipline than most other participants and was also much earlier in my PhD work (most were several years in and working on their dissertations), all expressed legitimate interest in what I was working on.

Although there wasn’t much down time (we attended about 40 talks throughout the week, plus meeting with our seminars every afternoon), I did have a very nice dinner out with my seminar group after our last meeting. It was a chance to be much more casual around everyone after a week of pretty serious scholarly discussion. I plan on maintaining contact with several members of that seminar, both as colleagues and friends.

It was an educational experience because I’ve only studied history since I started college. There were very clear methodological differences between myself and the rest of the participants. Though I don’t agree with all of the methodologies from Literary Criticism, I very much appreciated the chance to see these scholars in action. It gave me a view of something I’d never seen before.


Leave a Comment

Filed under Grad Student News

In Memoriam: Christopher Schmidt-Nowara

The History Department was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former colleague, ormer Magis Distinguished Professor Christopher Schmidt-Nowara. Chris passed away suddenly on June 27, 2015 after a sudden illness, while visiting his daughter in Paris, France. He was 48-years old and held the Prince of Asturias Chair in Spanish Culture and Civilization at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. A graduate of Kenyon College, earning his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Schmidt-Nowara was a beloved professor at Fordham University for more than a decade. A memorial will be held at Fordham University in the fall. We have collected some reminiscences from members of the department.  The first comes from Chris’s colleague Professor Sarah Elizabeth Penry and the second from Chris’s doctoral student Louie Dean Valencia-Garcia. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under In Memoriam