Professor Niels Gaul

Niels Gaul co-directs, together with Curie Virág, the PAIXUE project. His research focuses on the middle and, especially, later Byzantine empire; his recent work has looked at various types of social performances – be it in the form of rhetorical ‘theatre’ or (staged) miracles –, at the scholarly networks permeating Byzantine society and at the so-called ‘classical tradition’ from the ninth through fourteenth centuries. As part of the PAIXUE project, he is writing a monograph (very) provisionally entitled Classicising Learning in Byzantium: Towards a Sociology of Paideia in the Medieval Eastern Roman Empire, and co-authoring articles with Curie Virág and Michael Höckelmann.

Dr Curie Virág

Curie Virág is co-director of the PAIXUE project with Niels Gaul, and a specialist in pre-Qin and Tang-Song thought and intellectual history. She is interested in the evolution of ethical and cognitive norms and practices, and how this history is bound up with broader conceptual and structural developments. In the PAIXUE project, she is writing up a monograph that continues her long-standing investigation of emotions into the Middle Period, situating them within the context of new forms of subjectivity and learning practices that emerged alongside the shifting contours of empire. She is also co-authoring, with Niels Gaul, a methodological article on comparative approaches to classicizing learning in Byzantium and Tang-Song China, and with Foteini Spingou, a comparative research article on pleasure and the authorial self.

Dr Foteini Spingou

Dr Spingou works on the intersections between literature and visual culture in Byzantium. Her work puts emphasis on the social and political context of cultural developments from the ninth to the middle of the fourteenth centuries. She is particularly interested in bridging the theoretical fields of memory, ritual, and performance studies, while understanding past behaviours and the aesthetics codes in medieval East Mediterranean region. As part of the PAIXUE team, Dr Spingou is completing a monograph on Classical Ēthos and Byzantine Kállos: The Changing Aesthetics of the Byzantine Self which examines transformations and continuities in the aesthetic discoures of middle and later Byzantine literature. Dr Virág and Dr Spingou are co-authoring a comparative study on viewing and feeling the garden in the imperial systems of Tang/Song China and the Komnenian/Palaeologan Byzantium.

Dr Michael Höckelmann

Michael focuses on the intellectual and institutional history of mid-imperial China, in particular the Tang Dynasty (618–907). He is interested in (among other things) how ideas and thoughts permeate institutions and how social and political institutions impact on the ways in which people think. As a Research Fellow with PAIXUE, he is writing a monograph on the use of classical/classicising learning in discussions of institutional changes during the eighth through tenth centuries. Together with Niels Gaul, one of PAIXUE's principal investigators, he is also co-authoring an article on culturally productive emperors in China and Byzantium. Michael obtained his MA (2009) and PhD (2013) from the University of Münster, Germany, after which he spent a few years as a postdoctoral researcher in Kyoto, London and Cambridge, and taught at Hong Kong Baptist University. Before joining PAIXUE, he was a Lecturer in East Asian History at the University of Manchester.