I am currently working on a large project that seeks to explore the immediate impact of the European Reformations: Protestant and Catholic alike, on the reforming processes within the Orthodox Church in the early modern period. Plagued by the same problems that affected the late mediaeval Catholic Church, but devoid of proper educational facilities and handicapped by the archaic structure of decision-making on the top, some Orthodox leaders looked to the West in search of inspiration and examples of church reform. Various attempts at reviving the church and its constituent parts were undertaken between 1551 and 1666, but the end result was eventually to split the heretofore nominally united Eastern Orthodox Church into a number of national churches professing similar dogma, but otherwise grown apart in terms of ecclesiastical organisation and culture.
Parallel to this, a monograph provisionally entitled "The Nuns' Stories", for which I received an award in the 2010 round of the British Academy Small Grants Scheme, is work in progress. Applying comparative historical perspectives through the use of an interdisciplinary methodology and drawing on gender studies and anthropology, the project seeks to fill considerable gaps in the existing knowledge of Eastern Orthodox women's monasteries as important early modern institutions that allowed women a semi-autonomous existence within the patriarchal framework of East Slavic societies. The BA grant made it possible for me to spend a month exploring the rich archival holdings situated in the city of Lviv in Western Ukraine.
I can supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students with research interests in the following areas:
- European Reformations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries;
- Religion and politics in early modern Europe;
- Book and library history, especially the history of the printed book up to 1800;
- Russian and East European history in the early modern period;
- Polish and Ukrainian history.
'"That little golden book": Eastern Slavic translations of the Imitation of Christ, 1628-1799', The Printed Book in Central Europe Conference, 1 July 2017 (UK)
'Brothers and sisters: on the survival of double monasteries in the Eastern Church', Meeting of the Slavonic and Mediaeval Studies Group, 5 November 2016, Oxford (UK)
'Polonisation and all that, or religious identity and cultural change in Ruthenia: the Union of Lublin and the myths of "polonisation"', Culture and union: a comparison of the British/ Irish and the Polish-Lithuanian unions, 1386-1863: an international symposium, The Burn, Edzell, Aberdeenshire, 6 September 2014 (UK)
'Evil women and other women: a case of political witchcraft in early modern Ukraine', Invited lecture, Palacký University, Olomouc, 22 April 2014 (Czech Republic)
'"Revolting sisters": guarding traditional clerical privileges in the late Ukrainian Hetmanate', paper presented to the 45th Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, Washington, DC, 24 November 2013 (USA)
'A curious omission? Monasticism and Orthodox reform in the Metropolitanate of Kiev in the seventeenth century', Between religious conflict and reform: new approaches to late medieval and early modern confessional culture in Central European towns, c. 1400-1700. Workshop, Centre for Early Modern Studies, University of Aberdeen, in co-operation with the Palacký University of Olomouc, Czech Republic, 4 October 2013 (UK)
'Earthly mother, holy witch: social perceptions of Maria-Magdalena Mazepa (1687-1707)', paper presented to the 43rd Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, Washington, DC, 15 November 2011 (USA)
'A balancing act: the Eastern Orthodox women's monasteries in early modern Ukraine (1566-1786)', Meeting of the Slavonic and Mediaeval Studies Group, 19 March 2011, London (UK)
'A saint or not a saint: A late eighteenth-century life of Peter Mohyla', paper presented to the 41st Convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Boston, MA, 13 November 2009 (USA)
'"Calves into oxen"? The dilemmas of Orthodox education in the Ukrainian lands of Poland-Lithuania', Competing for souls: Religion and Education in a multi-confessional society. East Central Europe, 1550-1700: Symposium organised by the Centre for Early Modern Studies, University of Aberdeen, 5 December 2008 (UK)
'A book that never was? Some considerations about the hypothetical publication of Peter Mohyla's translation of the Imitation of Christ', paper presented at the 39th Convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, New Orleans, LA, 15 November 2007, New Orleans, LA (USA)
'Do books cause revolutions? A problem revisited', paper presented to the History Society, University College Dublin, 4 April 2005, Dublin (Ireland)
'Reformations, reforms, and reformers: Europe in the Confessional Age', Anna Bidder Talk, 3 February 2004, Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge (UK)
'Latin books and the reform of the Ruthenian Orthodox Church: Two catalogues of books purchased by Peter Mohyla in 1632 and 1633', paper presented at the Maurice Kennedy Research Centre, University College Dublin, 9 April 2003, Dublin (Ireland)
'Ukrainian higher education and libraries: An historical perspective', invited lecture presented to the Essex Branch of the English-Speaking Union, 26 June 2002, Manningtree (UK)
'Latin books and the reform of the Russian Orthodox church: Two catalogues of books purchased by Peter Mohyla in 1632 and 1633', invited lecture presented to the Bibliographical Society, 19 March 2002, London (UK)
'Peter Mohyla and his Kniga dushy narytsaema Zloto', paper presented to the Slavonic and East European Mediaeval Studies Group, 3 November 2001, London (UK)
'The library of the Kiev Academy: the surviving books evidence', paper presented to the Slavonic and East European Mediaeval Studies Group, 15 November 1997, London (UK)
'Seeds "being sown up and down", or A story of a lost library and the perennial Russian question: Who is to blame?', Lucy Tuesdays Seminar, 27 May 2001, Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge (UK)
'The work of the Ukrainian philosopher Hryhory Skovoroda: The twilight of liberty', paper presented at the Workshop of the Concepts and Symbols Group of the International Society for the Eighteenth-Century Studies, 26 February 1996, Naples (Italy)
'The transformation of a library: The library of the Kiev Mohyla Academy in the eighteenth century and the library of the Kiev Theological Academy', paper presented at the 1995 Congress of the International Society for the Eighteenth-century Studies, 27 July 1995, Münster (Germany)
My doctoral research on the history of the lost library of the Kiev Mohyla Academy, completed in 1999, has led to the publication of a monograph and a number of articles. The Kiev Academy, founded in 1632, was the first educational establishment operating at a university level in the Eastern Orthodox world; prior to the fire that completely destroyed it in 1780, this substantial collection of printed books, comprised almost exclusively of Latin editions, formed an integral part of the Academy's teaching and scholarly ethos. The first comprehensive history of the library ever written, my study also addressed such wider issues as the development of European education, the place of Byzantine heritage in the East Slavic culture of the early modern period, Western influences among the East Slavs prior to the reforms of Peter the Great, the role of the printed book in the transformation of cognitive patterns across Europe from the sixteenth century on, and the interaction of the Western and the Eastern churches in the Reformation era. As a post-doctoral Research Fellow in Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, I published a series of articles on Peter Mohyla, the 'Greek Orthodox' Metropolitan of Kiev (1633-1646), founder of the Kiev Academy and an eminent church reformer, whose work played an important part in the subsequent development of the doctrinal and liturgical thought of the Eastern Orthodox Church.