Professor Leslie Brubaker

Photograph of Professor Leslie Brubaker

Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies
Professor Emerita of Byzantine Art

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am Professor Emerita of Byzantine Art History, with particular interest in the cult of the Virgin, ‘iconoclasm’, the relationship between text and image, manuscripts, and gender.  I am also Director of the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, which is a unique research cluster with an international reputation, a thriving postgraduate community, and its own journal and two monograph series.


  • BA
  • MA (Pennsylvania)
  • PhD (John Hopkins)


My research interest in iconoclasms has led to the publication of numerous articles and four books (one of which, Byzantium in the iconoclast era, a history, weighs in at 2 kilograms, and won the 2011 PROSE award for best publication in the Humanities and also in History).  An international workshop on Iconoclasms which I was invited to organize in 2009 for Harvard led to the formation of a research group – the Iconoclasms Network, with 16 members from across America and Europe – for which I received three years of funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. We worked closely with Tate Britain on an exhibition on iconoclasm in Britain (Art Under Attack) that ran September 2013 until January 2014 and was accompanied by a fifth book on Iconoclasm co-edited with Dr Stacy Boldrick and Prof Richard Clay.  The concise survey, Inventing Byzantine Iconoclasm, will appear in Italian translation in winter 2015. My research on iconoclasms led to a related interest in cultural exchange, and several of my PhD students have worked or are working in this area.

My interest in text and image is longstanding, and was the subject of my first book (Vision and meaning in Byzantium) as well as a number of articles. This project has led me to a strong subsidiary interest in visual theory, visual literacy and visual semiotics – all of which tie into my third key area of interest, gender in the Byzantine world. I co-edited Gender in the Early Medieval World, am on the editorial board of Gender and History, and have lectured widely on Gender in Byzantine. Many of my past and current PhD students (see below) work in areas related to these two interests. 

All of these interests came together in the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project on Icons, relics and the cult of the Virgin, which I ran 2003 and 2006. This has resulted in The Cult of the Mother of God in Byzantium, texts and images (Ashgate, 2011), which I co-edited with Mary Cunningham.  Mary and I are also completing a book on The Virgin Mary in the Byzantine world, 600-1000: relics, icons, words and the rituals of daily life. We will both be at Dumbarton Oaks Centre for Byzantine Studies (Harvard) in 2016 to complete the manuscript.


Late Antique, Byzantine and early medieval art, architecture and material culture, the relationship between word and image; the study of illuminated manuscripts; theories of perception and interpretation; the transmission of cultural capital, in particular the movement through trade, gift exchange or diplomatic gift of luxury products; gender.

Other activities

I am active in a number of societies, and am on the executive committee of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies. I sit on the editorial boards of the Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies series (Ashgate), and Cultural encounters in late antiquity and the middle ages (Brepols); and am a member of the editorial boards of the journals Gender and History and Byzantinoslavica.  I have served on the Board for British Academy Sponsored Institutes and Societies (BASIS), with special responsibility for the British School at Rome and the British Institute at Ankara, and the International Engagement Committee of the British Academy. In 2010, I received the Distinguished Alumnae Award from the Pennsylvania State University.

I have organised two Byzantine Spring Symposia at Birmingham, was a member of the organising committee for the Congress of Byzantine Studies in London in 2006, and am an international consultant for the forMuse-Projekt (Papurusmuseum – Museum der Kultur in Agypten.  Neue Aspekte in einem Museum mit besonderem Potential) run by the University of Vienna and the Österreichische Nationalmuseum.


Recent publications


Brubaker, L & S, T (eds) 2013, Approaches to the Byzantine family. Ashgate.

Brubaker, L & Cunningham, M 2012, The Virgin Mary in Byzantine world: relics, icons, and texts. Cambridge University Press.

Brubaker, L & Haldon, JF 2011, Byzantium in the iconoclast era ca 680 - ca 850: A History. Cambridge University Press.


Brubaker, L 2009, 'Gesture in Byzantium', Past & Present, pp. 36-56.

Brubaker, L 2009, 'Representation C. 800: Arab, Byzantine, Carolingian', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol. 19, pp. 37-.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Brubaker, L & Wickham, C 2021, Processions, power, and community identity: East and West. in W Pohl & R Kramer (eds), Empires and communities in the Post-Roman and Islamic World, C. 400-1000 CE. Oxford Studies in Early Empires, Oxford University Press. <>

Brubaker, L 2019, The Virgin at Daphni. in T Arentzen & M Cunningham (eds), The reception of the Virgin in Byzantium: Marian narratives in texts and images. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 120-148.

Brubaker, L 2017, The Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus. in Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts. Brill, pp. 351-65.

Brubaker, L 2013, Looking at the Byzantine Family. in L Brubaker & S Tougher (eds), Approaches to the Byzantine Family. Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies, Ashgate, pp. 177-206.


Brubaker, L 2011, 'Gifts and prayers'. in W Davies & P Fouracre (eds), The visualisation of gift giving in Byzantium and the mosaics of Hagia Sophia. Languages of gift. Cambridge University Press.

Brubaker, L 2011, Icons and iconomachy. in L James (ed.), A Companion to Byzantium. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World, Wiley-Blackwell.

Brubaker, L 2009, Byzantine visions of the end. in P Clarke & T Claydon (eds), The Church, the afterlife and the fate of the soul. vol. 45, Ecclesiastical History Society.

Brubaker, L 2009, Eighth-Century Iconoclasms, Edited by J Alchermes. in Festschrift For Thomas Mathews.

Brubaker, L 2009, Gesture in Byzantium. in M Braddick (ed.), The Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives. Oxford University Press.


Brubaker, L & Sato, S 2009, 'Hermenutique du texte d'histoire: orientation, interpretation et questionsNovelles', pp. 93-100.

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