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 langauges and political contexts. I am concerned with how meaning is locally created and repurposed, and how medieval actors used textual production to seek 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 assumtpions 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 sublatern; 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. For my own work, I have spent some time thinking about the theoretical underpinnings of textual analysis, the boundaries of text and context, and the agentic possibilities of texts as utterances, declarations or socially symbolic acts.

My docotral thesis, Inventing Slavonic: Cutlures 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. My next project, Greek in the Early Medieval Balkans, explores the continued use of Greek after the arrival of the Slavonic alphabet through a mixed method approach combining manuscript evidence with inscribed texts. It seeks to ascertain how multi-lingualism manifested itself on the ground, and how it intersected with local identities and class status.

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 aspects of historical theory and methodology under ‘Approaches to History’ for Prelims, and ‘Disciplines of History’ for the Final Honours School. I also teach on the Special Subject, ‘Byzantium in the Age of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, 913-959’.

Selected Publications

M. Ivanova, H. Jeffery eds., Transmitting and Circulating the Late Antique and Byzantine Worlds (Brill: Leiden, 2020)
M. Ivanova, ‘ 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)

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