2017 Fisher Forum



June 22, 2017

9:00 AM – 5:30 PM

General Lounge, 210 Illini Union (1401 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Organized by David Cooper (Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Illinois)

Sponsored by: Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (REEEC) Ralph and Ruth Fisher Endowment; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics; Program in Medieval Studies; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

This event is free and open to the public.

2017 Fisher Forum Flyer



Michael Bechtel (University of Chicago)

Donna Buchanan (University of Illinois)

Gabriela Currie (University of Minnesota)

Eva Doležalová (Center for Medieval Studies, Prague)

Ines Garcia de la Puente (Boston University)

Paul Milliman (University of Arizona)

Olenka Pevny (Cambridge University)

Robert Romanchuk (Florida State University)

Matthew Romaniello (University of Hawaii)

Julia Verkholantsev (University of Pennsylvania)


The conference aims to contribute to an ongoing academic discussion at UIUC, inspired by the journal The Medieval Globe, which promotes a global understanding of medieval civilization and challenges anachronistic boundaries, categories, and expectations. Specifically, in this forum we hope to demonstrate to the broader scholarly community that the lingering anachronistic division of Medieval Europe into “Eastern” and “Western,” imposed by contemporary notions of geopolitics and inherited from Cold War scholarship, obscures the study of pre-modern topics and even misconstrues the realities of Central and Eastern European culture, life and politics. Instead, we propose to explore divisions and affinities in Medieval Europe in the framework of networks, communities, and other forms of association. Focusing on the central, eastern, and southern European lands, invited speakers will examine how their individual research projects contribute to a holistic understanding of the Global Middle Ages, demonstrating cross-regional interconnectivity, illustrating the deeper roots of global processes, or offering new perspectives on the pre-modern and its importance for our understanding of the present global situation. Integrating the study of history, literature, religion, fine-arts, and many others, the interdisciplinary and trans-national nature of medieval studies is especially relevant today, when nineteenth-century Romantic visions and twenty-first century short-sighted nationalisms encourage a pigeonholing projection of the past, while an understanding of the deep roots of our global interconnectivity can offer new perspectives on and approaches to the problems of globalization.


9 AM: Welcoming Remarks, David Cooper, Director of REEEC, Organizer

9:15 – 11:45 AM: Panel 1: Rus’ and its Environs
Chair: John Randolph (University of Illinois)

  • Ines Garcia de la Puente (Boston University), “The Translated Worlds of Kievan Rus'”
  • Olenka Pevny (Cambridge University), “‘Living’ Orthodoxy and Petro Mohyla’s Restoration of the Kyivan Rus Patrimony”
  • Matthew Romaniello (University of Hawaii), “Commodities without Context? Rethinking the History of Medicine in Medieval Russia”
  • Michael Bechtel (University of Chicago), “The End of the Nomadic Military Elite: Technology and Institutional Change in Late Medieval Central Eurasia”

12:00 – 1:00 PM: Lunch Break

1:15 – 3:00 PM: Panel 2: Central Europe
Chair: Carol Symes, Editor, The Medieval Globe (University of Illinois)

  • Julia Verkholantsev (University of Pennsylvania), “Medieval Historian at Work: Historical Method and Linguistic Thought”
  • Paul Milliman (University of Arizona), “The First Invention of Eastern Europe: Sclavia, Scythia, and the East in the Medieval Map of Civilization”
  • Eva Doležalová (Center for Medieval Studies, Prague), “Image of the Jews in the High and Late Medieval Bohemian Society in Comparison to the Holy Roman Empire”

3:00 – 3:15 PM: Short Break

3:15 – 5:00 PM: Panel 3: Southeastern Europe
Chair: Martin Camargo (University of Illinois)

  • Gabriela Currie (University of Minnesota), “Eurasian Sonic Borderlands: Cultural Encounters in the Danubian Plains”
  • Donna Buchanan (University of Illinois), “Sonic Politics of the Sacred: Bells and Belfries in the Bulgarian Middle Ages and Contemporary Medieval Imaginary”
  • Robert Romanchuk (Florida State University), “The ‘Formulaic Style’ and Its Role in the Translation of Digenis Akritis into Old Slavic”

5:00 – 5:20 PM: Closing Discussion