Dr Mirela Ivanova
Department of History
Lecturer in Medieval History
Full contact details
Department of History
1 Upper Hanover Street
I work on the intellectual and social history of Byzantium and Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages. I joined the Department of History in Sheffield in 2021. Prior to this I was a Junior Research Fellow in Medieval History at the University of Oxford.
I was a fellow at Koç University’s Research Centre for Study of Anatolian Civilisations, in Istanbul in Autumn 2021, and a fellow at the Centre for Advanced Study in Sofia, in Summer 2022. In addition, I have spent various lengths of time visiting, researching or learning languages at the Hilandar Research Library in Ohio State University, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, in Washington, and St Petersburg’s Derzhavin Institute.
- Research interests
My research interests fall into two main tenets.
In the middle ages, my research explores written culture, multilingualism 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 seek to bring about changes in their socio-political circumstances.
My first monograph, currently in preparation, Inventing Slavonic: Cultures of Writing between Rome and Constantinople, explores the earliest texts concerned with the invention of the Slavonic alphabet. It analyses how the alphabet continued to be contested and re-invented 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.
Relatedly, my work explores the historiography of Byzantium and Central and Eastern Europe. I am interested in how nineteenth- and twentieth- century interpretations of medieval sources have been guided by nationalist projects, and continue to permeate scholarship as the common sense assumptions about medieval sources or people. To this end, I spent three years co-convening an international research network based at the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, entitled New Critical Approaches to the Byzantine World, which sought to bring historical theory to the study of the Byzantine World. Springing from this, I am currently co-editing a book with Benjamin Anderson (Cornell) entitled Is Byzantine Studies a Colonialist Discipline? Towards a Critical Historiography.
- Bulgaria's traumatic revival. History today, 71(11), 88-91.
- Inventing and ethnicising Slavonic in the long ninth century. Journal of Medieval History, 47(4-5), 574-586. View this article in WRRO
- Faithful Translators or Obfuscators? Chapter 13 of the Vita Constantini and Perceptions of Learned Men in Byzantium. Кирило-Методиеви Студии, 31, 169-182.
- Re-thinking the Life of Constantine-Cyril the Philosopher. The Slavonic and East European Review, 98(3), 434-463. View this article in WRRO
- Seeing like a church: the Politics of Theophylact of Ohrid's Fifteen Martyrs of Tiberioupolis In Booth P & Whitby M (Ed.), TRAVAUX ET MEMOIRES, Mélanges James Howard-Johnston (pp. 675-694). Paris: Association des Amis du Centre d’Histoire et Civilisation de Byzance.
- The Madara Horseman and Triumphal Inscriptions in Krum's Early Medieval Bulgaria (c.803-814) (pp. 166-184). Leiden: Brill.
- Teaching activities
HST116 - Empire
HST21013 - The Fall of the Roman Empire in the West
HST3126 - Nomadland: The Peoples of the Steppe, 600-1000
- Public Engagement
I have a longstanding commitment to access and outreach and have worked with a range of initiatives and organisations to deliver seminars, classes, and university application support to schools across the UK. I am very happy to be contacted by schools!
I also have an interest in non-academic writing, and have published on a range of topics, like Soviet Blocks, religious architecture, Balkans and the memory of the Ottoman empire in the age of the refugee crisis for the likes of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Balkanist Magazine and History Today.
In 2021, I was selected as a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker, which means I have had the opportunity to share my research with a wider audience on Radio 3, and you can hear me feature here and here.