Stephanie Novasio

Stephanie Novasio

Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

Qualifications

  • BA Ancient and Medieval History (University of Birmingham)
  • MA Medieval Studies, Byzantine Pathway (University of Birmingham)

Biography

My interests in Byzantium and specifically social history developed during my second and third years of undergraduate study, when I participated in modules relating to gender, the family and the medieval peasantry. Both my BA and MA theses focused on portrayals of gender in twelfth- and fourteenth-century Byzantine romances. 

Doctoral research

PhD title
Searching for Identities: a meeting of text and material culture in the Byzantine Life Course CE 1204-1453
Supervisor
Professor Leslie Brubaker
Course
Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

Research

My research provides the first investigation of the Life Course in the Late Byzantine period (CE 1204-1453). Life Course theory, which examines the roles of cultural variables – namely gender, age and social status – in the process of “growing-up”, has fundamentally impacted historical approaches to Roman and Western Medieval societies, but rarely features in Byzantine studies. My project explores the interactive functions of gender, age and status in determining how Byzantine society imagined the division of the course of life into stages – such as childhood, adolescence, and old age – and the characteristics of those life-stages and the transitions between them. My research asks how such cultural constructs shape human social conduct and interaction. Specifically, by focusing on the socially conceived elements of the human life cycle, it illuminates Byzantine ideas regarding the nature and structure of the family and community. 

By exploring representations of gendered familial and communal identities, this project seeks to address the current dearth of social historiography surrounding the Late Byzantine period. It also pursues an interdisciplinary methodology, analysing both textual and material evidence, in order to examine both elite and peasant social groupings. The latter are poorly represented in most textual genres, which generally offer male aristocratic perspectives. My research thus aims to create a “class-sensitive” analysis of the Byzantine family and community, and the gendered roles within each. It will thereby contribute new, nuanced material to the fields of medieval gender and social history, which remain weighted toward studies of the elite.

Funding: Midland3Cities

Other activities

Scholarships:

  • Distinguished Alumni Scholarship Award, University of Birmingham (Masters Scholarship).
  • College of Arts and Law Masters Scholarship, University of Birmingham.
  • PhD funded by Midlands3Cities, Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Work with the college:

  • During my Masters year I worked as my college’s Postgraduate Support Assistant, organising, running and participating in events and facilities designed to introduce students to postgraduate life at the University of Birmingham.