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

I am a cultural and intellectual historian of the eastern Mediterannean of the 9th to 14th c. Bridging the fields of history, philology and art history, I seek to understand past behaviours and aesthetics codes in the medieval East Mediterranean region. My PAIXUE project focuses on the political and social implications of beauty in Byzantium. The quest for beauty – either this is human, or of the landscape, or artistic – defined the individual and the group. Treating each medieval text as a well-posed selfie, I explore why Byzantine authors made 'beautiful texts' to present their 'beautiful selves' to their group of peers using Classics. I currently collaborate with Curie Viràg (PAIXUE) on a comparative study of Pleasure in the Byzantine and Chinese Garden and discuss fervently with Ari Levine (Univ of Georgia) Emic/Etic Approaches to Imperial Ceremonies under the Song and the Komnenoi. 

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.