Projects

All members of MARCUS are actively engaged in research into the medieval and ancient worlds. MARCUS aims to facilitate co-operation and collaboration within the field, and arranges round-table seminars to discuss potential bids for external research funding.

Here is a selection of externally-funded current and recent research projects.

The project was awarded a research project grant for £166,025 from the Leverhulme Trust and is titled 'Women, Conflict and Peace: Gendered Networks in Early Medieval Narratives (c. 330-735)'. It will analyse how early medieval history-writing fitted women and their networks into stories of conflict and peace-building, during a historical period that was marred by warfare, feud and religious conflict.

The project will run for 24 months, from September 2018 to August 2020. The project team consists of Prof Julia Hillner (PI, Sheffield), Dr Máirín MacCarron (Sheffield), Prof Ralph Kenna (Coventry) and Prof Sílvio Dahmen (Porto Alegre).

As this project (funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation) attempts to show, Christian widows of the fourth and fifth century CE were no victims of inheritance hunters nor were they ultimately dependant on the priests and bishops who wrote to them. These widows were instead on the hunt themselves – on the hunt for status and influence, as the reoccurring term ambitio makes clear. Therefore, this project seeks to unveil the agency of widows in late antiquity beyond prevailing limits of asceticism and euergetism. Based on a Bourdieuian field-analysis and network theory this approach seeks to illustrate that some widows used their recently achieved liberty not for withdrawing from society, i.e. living an ascetic life among their peers. Rather, they used their liberty to actively engage within this society, and within the elite in particular. In so doing, these (wealthy) widows constructed, contested and negotiated power relations by appropriating and nuancing communication strategies of allegedly male domains of practice, i.e. the daily business of the household. These widows, strictly speaking, set up new power relations with which they started negotiating and maintaining, and indeed creating new field positions.

Turbulent Priests

One of the definitions of the Middle Ages is as a time when religion was not considered a separate category from other areas of life, before the invention of the secular in the Enlightenment. Yet ‘the secular’ is arguably a concept intrinsic to Christianity, and in fact people did distinguish between secular and religious in certain contexts. This AHRC project focuses on how this boundary was ‘performed’ in Europe c.600-1200, with particular attention to judicial practice

The Migration of Faith: Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity

This is an international and interdisciplinary research project between the Universities of Sheffield, Aarhus, Halle, and the Austrian Academy, funded by the AHRC, investigating how the banishment of hundreds of Christian clerics to a myriad of places all around the Mediterranean during the religious controversies of late antiquity shaped the institution of the Christian Church in this period and beyond.

Classical Heroism in War and Peace, 1914-24

The Ancient Greeks created the concept of the hero. From the very beginning of the literary record – in Homer’s Iliad and Greek Tragedy – the hero is both paradigm and paradox. Born of the battlefield, the Greek hero stands between the beauty of the gods and the vulnerability of mortals in combat. Sacrificed to war and the demands of personal glory, he is bound to yet isolated from the community he seeks to defend. In his fragile balance of daimonic aggression and pity for his victims, the hero is elevated but conflicted. The paradoxes of heroic nature are further pressed in ancient thought by the courage of women. Ancient heroines emerge from sites of struggle removed from the fields of war yet fully implicated in them – in crises where family and political loyalties clash and where violent death is the only means of resolution. These ancient mythological paradigms of heroism are a persistent feature in European cultural attempts to process the trauma of World War I and its aftermath.

This Network explores reflections on male and female heroism and their expression in a range of media of the war and post-war period: political rhetoric, poetry, art, sculpture and public memorials.