Przemyslaw Marciniak

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2018/2019
discipline Literature
Head of the Department of Classics & Director of the Center for Studies on Byzantine Literature and Reception, University of Silesia

Research project

Byzantium and the Popular Imagination - Stereotypes, Simplifications, Reappraisal (19th-21st Centuries)


The aim of this project is to study the use of the Byzantine past in the modern imagination on various levels in multiple media (theatre, cinema, literature). Byzantine reception studies are still underdeveloped, and until recently, scholars have focused primarily on the Greek understanding of Byzantium, largely neglecting other dimensions of the reception of the Byzantine past. In the context of recent developments in European politics, especially in Eastern Europe (e.g., Russia’s recent re-engagement with its Byzantine heritage), this project can deeply enrich our understanding of Europe’s past and present.


My project intends to show how the Byzantine past in art, literature, and politics has been received and used in Europe and has influenced various spheres of European culture and politics. To mention only a few examples, Byzantine heritage was cited to legitimize the imperial aspirations of Louis XIV and the absolutist dreams of Ludwig II of Bavaria, was integrated into the political discourse of Russian pan-Slavists in the nineteenth century, and emerged again as an important component of neo-imperial Russian propaganda in the twenty-first century. During the nineteenth century, Byzantium was equated with the Russian Tsardom in occupied Poland, and Polish patriots reinterpreted Byzantine history for political purposes, positioning Byzantium as an oppressive state.


The wealth of available material precludes adequately researching all topics related to the reception of Byzantium. Therefore, the present project will focus on the imagery of Byzantium in popular imagination between the 19th and 21st centuries. It will study modern cultural responses to Byzantium in theatre, cinema and popular culture (speculative fiction, board games, computer games, historical novels). This is an interdisciplinary project, which brings together Byzantine studies, cultural studies, literary studies and history. It will consist of three research nodes focusing on different aspects and views of the reception of Byzantium. Together, these nodes will cover hitherto unstudied methodological issues and material.




Przemyslaw Marciniak is Director of the Center for Studies on Byzantine Literature and Reception, at the University of Silesia. He holds a PhD in Literary Studies/Byzantine Literature from the University of Silesia in Katowice. He worked as Visiting Researcher at the Queen’s University Belfast and was Humboldt-Fellow at the Free University Berlin. He also held fellowships and positions in Washington, Paris and Princeton. At the moment he is Wilhelm Friedrich Bessel-Forschungspreisträger at the Institute for Byzantine Studies in Munich. His research includes Byzantine literature, humour studies and the reception of Byzantine culture.


Selected publications


'A pious mouse and a deadly cat: The Schede tou Myos ascribed to Theodore Prodromos', Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, vol. 57, 2017, pp. 507-527.


'The Beard and its Philosopher. Theodore Prodromos on philosophic beards in Byzantium', with J. Kucharski, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, vol. 41, no. 1, 2017, pp. 1-10.


'Reinventing Lucian in Byzantium', Dumbarton Oaks Papers, vol. 70, 2016, pp. 209-224.


The Reception of Byzantium in European Culture since 1500, with D. Smythe, Ashgate, Farnham, 2015.


'Emperor! Byzantium in cinema', in I. Nilsson, P. Stephenson (eds), Wanted! Byzantium - The Desire for a Lost Empire, Uppsala Universitet, Uppsala, 2014, pp. 247-255.



senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline Literature
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline Cultural Studies
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline History and Law