Mirela Ivanova

Mirela Ivanova

Junior Research Fellow in Medieval History

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I work on the intellectual and social history of Byzantium and Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages. Broadly speaking, my research explores written culture, literacy, multi-lingualism and cultural transmission across languages and political contexts. I am concerned with how meaning is locally created, and how medieval actors used textual production to bring about changes in their socio-political circumstances. Relatedly, my work explores the historiography of Byzantium and Central and Eastern Europe, and how nineteenth- and twentieth- century interpretations of medieval sources have been guided by nation-building projects, and continue to permeate scholarship as the often unquestioned commonsense assumptions about medieval sources or people.

More generally still, I am interested in historical theory and the philosophy of history and their uses in the practice of history. To this end, I am a co-convenor of the TORCH Research Network ‘New Critical Approaches to the Byzantine World’, where I have led and co-organised events on Balkanism; hegemony and the subaltern; imperialism, colonialism and post-colonialism in the study of the Byzantine world; and the uses and possibilities of post-Butler gender theory for the study of the medieval world.  I am currently co-editing a book, exploring the question of whether Byzantium is a colonial discipline, and how we might write a better, critical historiography of the field.

My doctoral thesis, under preparation for publication as a monograph, and entitled Inventing Slavonic: Cultures of Writing between Rome and Constantinople, explored the earliest texts concerned with the invention of the Slavonic alphabet. It analysed how the alphabet continued to be contested, repurposed and re-invented in roughly the first century after its invention (ca.860-950), and how the changing context of its use in turn affected ideas about writing, script-creation and conversion more broadly.

I am happy to teach any aspect of early medieval European and World History, especially the papers ‘The Transformation of the Ancient World (370-900)’ for Prelims, and ‘The Early Medieval World (600-1000)’ and ‘The Global Middle Ages (500-1500)’ for Finals; as well as historical theory and methodology under ‘Approaches to History’ for Prelims, and ‘Disciplines of History’ for the Finals School and ‘Theories and Methods’ for the Masters course. I also teach on the Special Subject, ‘Byzantium in the Age of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, 913-959’.

Selected Publications

‘Re-Thinking the Life of Constantine Cyril the Philosopher’, The Slavonic and East European Review, 98.3 (2020), pp.434-463.

Edited with Hugh Jeffery, Transmitting and Circulating the Late Antique and Byzantine Worlds (Brill: Leiden, 2020)

‘The Madara Horseman and Triumphal Inscriptions under Krum (c.803-814)’, in eds. M. Kinloch, A. MacFarlane, Trends and Turning Points: Constructing the Late Antique and Byzantine World (Brill: Leiden, 2019), pp.166-85.

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