Student Workshop, Meteora: a Unesco World Heritage Site

Suspended in the Air
An Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Workshop
Meteora: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
June 4th – June 11th  2023


This eight day intensive interdisciplinary workshop, under the aegis of the Diocesan Academy of Theological and Historical Studies of the Holy Meteora, will convene up to twenty graduate students from Princeton University and universities in Greece. The workshop will introduce students to the rich heritage of the monastic community of Meteora, allowing them to cultivate their interests in the discipline of their choice. Within its dramatic scenery, Meteora preserves a number of functioning and defunct monasteries and nunneries, which house unique collections of manuscripts, art, and material culture.

The students will be taught classes by experts in the following disciplines:


The history of Meteora offers a window into the political, economic and social affairs of Thessaly, Greece and the Balkans during the late medieval and early modern periods. Students will learn about the shifting role of monasticism and the nuances of its different functions under Byzantine, Serbian and Ottoman rule.

Manuscript and Early Print Book Culture

The monasteries of Meteora possess well-catalogued  collections of Byzantine and post-Byzantine manuscripts and early-modern printed books, mostly in Greek. The focus will be the collection of the Great Meteoron Monastery, which is also the richest in Meteora. The class will include a hands-on session under the supervision of specialists. The workshop will also provide a basic foundation in methods of Greek palaeography, the transmission history of ancient and medieval texts and the history of pre-modern and early modern book culture.

Visual Culture

The Meteora monasteries boast important collections of icons, as well as larger pictorial ensembles, which represent the later Byzantine, post-Byzantine (“Cretan”), Russian, and even Latinate visual canons. The class will be given access to churches and sacristies during the days that the monasteries do not accept visitors, in order to have a smooth teaching experience guaranteed.

Material Culture

The Meteora monasteries possess diverse collections of material culture, from Italian fabrics to Spanish ceramics, and from Ottoman woodwork to Gothic metalware, covering an unusually wide selection of objects. These collections represent an eclectic material culture, which reflect the regions interconnectedness throughout the centuries. The class will focus on notions of materiality, thingness, and portability as methods of contextualizing the objects preserved in Christian sacristies. The class will also offer anthropological perspectives on the material expressions of piety. The same arrangements will be made.

Access will be granted to students and teaching staff to the spaces and collections of at least three monasteries (the Great Meteoron Monastery, Saint Nicholas Anapafsas Monastery, Roussanou Monastery). Besides the aforementioned monasteries, PowerPoint presentation-based classes could also take place at the Library of Kalambaka:


Molly Greene, Professor, Department of History Princeton University (Monasticism in the Ottoman period)

Konstantinos Vaphiades, Director of the Diocesan Academy of Religious and Historical Studies of the Holy Meteora (Material and Visual Culture)

Nikolaos Vryzidis  Post Doctoral Fellow, Department of History and Archaeology Aristotle University of Thessaloniki  (Material culture)

Charles Barber, Professor, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University (Byzantine and post-Byzantine art)

Ellen Arnold, Professor, Universitetet i Stavanger, Norway (Western monasticism, environmental history)

Nikolas Pissis, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Ionian University (Corfu) (Medieval Serbia and the Russian World)

Stratis Papaioannou, Professor, Department of Philology, University of Crete (Byzantine literature)

Elif Bayraktar-Tellan, Associate Professor, History Department, Istanbul Medeniyet University (Meteora in the Ottoman period)


The following material should be combined into a single file and uploaded to the application form which can be found here.

  • a CV;
  • a 1-page statement of the applicant’s research trajectory and interests;
  • a short sample/excerpt (~10 pp) from the applicant’s work in progress and
  • contact information for a faculty advisor who may be contacted as a reference (no letter of recommendation is required with the initial application).

Application Deadline: February 17, 2023 (5 pm EDT).

Questions? Contact Chris Twiname, administrative coordinator.

Students will be notified of their selection by March 15. The selection committee includes some of the faculty participants and a representative from the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies.


Any student may apply who is:

  • enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Princeton or at various participating universities in Greece


Students will be given instructions on how to apply for funding when they are notified of their selection.

This program is a Humanities Council Magic Project.

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