Global Seminar: Byzantine and Modern Greek


Columbia Global Seminar in Istanbul: Byzantine and Modern Greek Encounters

I. 2014-2015

Building upon its existing relationship with Bogaziçi University and the Global Center, Columbia University developed a new spring semester program in which students anchored their studies in Istanbul by participating in two Columbia-style seminars taught by two distinguished Columbia faculty. The two seminars were taught consecutively in condensed sessions over the spring term. Although distinctive in their subject matter and disciplinary approach, each addressed the question of how, from the Middle Ages to the present, westerners have interpreted and incorporated features of Greek culture. The first course explored the history of western Europeans’ relationship to Byzantine culture when Constantinople reigned as a cultural capital of Christendom; the second examined how the World has responded to Greece at the crossroads of East and West since the Fall of Constantinople with literature as its main lens for reading culture.

“Byzantine Encounters” (Martha Howell, History, Columbia), taught during the first half of the term, examines the experience and reactions of western European travelers, traders, and warriors in Constantinople during the Middle Ages, prior to and immediately after the Ottoman conquest of 1453 and continuing into the early years of the European Renaissance. Readings will include narrative sketches of the history of the period, critical literature examining key instances of encounter, and primary sources produced by westerners that record their impressions of and experiences in Constantinople. The classroom experience will be enhanced by extracurricular visits to monuments in Istanbul that display key features of Byzantine and early Ottoman culture.
“The World Responds to the Greeks” (Karen Van Dyck, Program in Hellenic Studies, Classics, Columbia), taught in the second half of the term, foregrounds moments in literary history and the history of representational forms when Greece’s position at the crossroads –Byzantine and Ottoman; Ancient and Modern; the Balkans and Europe; Greece, Cyprus and Turkey; and Greece and America – become comparatively productive in various fields (Literature, History, Sociology, Film, Architecture, Anthropology). Students will have the opportunity to read works by writers and scholars from the region as well as to meet and discuss their work with them.

This program was developed with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Click here for more information:


"The World Responds to the Greeks": Karen Van Dyck with guest speakers and students

Karen Van Dyck and Michael Taussig on Cultural Intimacy

Valentina Izmirlieva on the Case of the Christian Hajjis

Mehmet Yashin and Lawrence Venuti on translation, multilingualism, and Cyprus (Robinson Crusoe bookstore)

Opening reception of the "Blue Voyagers: The Art of Romare Bearden and Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu" exhibition, April 15, 2015, Sismanoglio Megaro.

II. 2015-2016

"The World Responds to the Greeks": Dimitris Antoniou & Matthew Gumpert (Spring 2016)

Originally offered in 2015 by Karen Van Dyck and Martha Howell of Columbia University, the second year of Byzantine and Modern Greek Encounters took place in Istanbul and New York simultaneously. The global core “The World Responds to the Greeks” was taught by Professor Dimitrios Antoniou in New York and Professor Matthew Gumpert in Istanbul. The focus was on the way particular spaces serve as sites for the production and reproduction of cultural and political imaginaries. It placed particular emphasis on the themes of the polis, the city, and the nation-state as well as on spatial and literary representations of and responses to notions of Greece across time. The question of space and the site-specific was also raised by the very logistics of the course, which linked two classrooms, two groups of students, and two professors by way of long-distance learning technologies and real exchange. Unlike other courses live-streaming a single professor's lecture to passive audiences, "The World Responds to the Greeks" emphasizes dialogue, team-teaching, and students' active participation through the use of special software and studio equipment. "The World Responds to the Greeks" aimed to familiarize students not only with Greece as a space at the crossroads of East and West but also with the ways in which different disciplines have considered space across geography and time, and understood it, in their own ways, as "Hellenic."  Towards that end the course included a number of open classes in the form of public events to facilitate a wider discussion and engagements with communities in New York and Istanbul.

With the support of the Onassis Foundation (USA).

RELATED EVENTS as part of the course: “The World Responds to the Greeks” (Columbia University and Columbia Global Centers, Istanbul)

March 3, 2016 (Columbia University)
Bülent Küçük (Assistant Professor of Sociology, Boğaziçi University)
Nazan Üstündağ (Assistant Professor of Sociology, Boğaziçi University)
Narges Erami (Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Yale University)
Michael Taussig (Columbia University)
Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, Department of History, Department of Religion, Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia Law School, Program in Hellenic Studies, Middle East Institute, Office of the Dean of Humanities.
March 31, 2016 (Columbia University)
Kostas Kostis (Professor of Economics, University of Athens)
“The Spoiled Children of History”
With the support of the Onassis Foundation (USA) and the Office of the Dean of Humanities
April 28, 2016 (Boğaziçi University)
Sibel Bozdoğan (Urban Planning and Design, Harvard University; Architecture, Kadir Has University)
“Modernism and Nation- Building: Turkish Architectural Culture in the Early Republic”
May 3, 2016 (Columbia Global Center, Istanbul)
Dimitris Antoniou (Columbia University)
May 10, 2016 (Columbia Global Center, Istanbul)
Stavros T. Anestidis (Center for Asia Minor Studies)
Click here for more information: