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25 January 2023 - 8 March 2023

5:30PM - 7:00PM

7 Owengate, Durham, DH1 3HB (and online - registration essential)

  • Free

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This interdisciplinary forum covers a wide range of medieval and early modern topics. It is designed to bring together members, including students, from across our departments, as well as from outside Durham University.

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Events in this series are listed in full below.

*Due to industrial action, a number of our originally planned dates have been affected, meaning we are offering a reduced seminar programme this term. If you are planning to attend in person, please check this page before setting out in case of any last-minute updates. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.*

Unless otherwise stated, all events will take place on Wednesdays, 5.30pm (UK time) at 7 Owengate, DH1 3HB.

We encourage in-person attendance where possible (no need to book, unless otherwise stated). The option of online attendance is there for greater accessibility (please register using the link under the relevant seminar(s)).


25 January:

Apocalypse Now? Imperial Piety, Warfare, and Eschatology in the 7th-century East Roman Empire. Dr Nadine Viermann (Durham).

Recent research on the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East in the 6th and 7th century CE has highlighted an allegedly widespread apocalyptic mood that effected phenomena like the transformation of the East Roman state or the rise of Islam (e.g., the works of Mischa Meier and Stephen Shoemaker). Contemporary sources indeed show traces of apocalyptic thinking, but they should be, I argue, read with caution. Instead of resorting to the idea of decades of apocalyptic frenzy across the Roman society, I propose an alternative model to account for the transformation of the East Roman polity in the early 7th century. This model centres around the intersection of warfare and imperial piety and reflects on how the East Roman emperors, facing internal instability and geopolitical challenges, explored new avenues of imperial representation.

In person (no registration required) or click here to register for the webinar version.


8 February:

Seeking the Common Complexities in the Authenticity of Heritage beyond the "Eastern" and "Western" Dichotomy: A Case Study between China and Scotland. Dr Qian Gao (Durham).

In recent decades, there has been a significant critique of ‘Eurocentric’ notions of heritage conservation, drawing on ‘non-Western,’ particularly Asian, contexts. Authenticity has been a core principle and defining feature of this development. A relativistic approach emphasising the cultural specificity of authenticity has been introduced alongside the European-originated materialist approach in international policy and conservation philosophy, as endorsed by a series of charters and documents. The promotion of Asian difference, on the other hand, has contributed to an increasingly entrenched and unproductive dichotomy between ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ approaches to heritage. This talk reveals the common complexities surrounding authenticity in two countries crosscutting this dualism – China and Scotland. The analysis, which draws on a number of ethnographic projects, identifies themes that characterise the experience of authenticity in various cultural contexts. It calls into question the alleged divide between ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ concepts and approaches to authenticity in heritage conservation, and it contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the changing relationship between heritage conservation and contemporary societies across ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ borders.

In person (no registration required) or click here to register for the webinar version.


8 March:

Shakespeare and University Drama in Early Modern England. Dr Daniel Blank (Durham).

In person for drinks and nibbles, 5.00pm for a 5.30pm seminar at 7 Owengate. Email no later than 7 March to book for in person attendance, or click here to register for the webinar version, which will start at approximately 5.45pm

Today Shakespeare’s plays are performed by students around the world, but what did university theatre look like during Shakespeare’s lifetime? And did this have an impact on his plays? Join Daniel Blank as he discusses his new book, Shakespeare and University Drama in Early Modern England, which reveals Shakespeare’s interest in and engagement with academic culture. He will share ground-breaking new readings of plays like HamletMacbeth, and Love’s Labour’s Lost, and will discuss the book's insights into the history of student drama.