Ethan Schmidt

PhD Student, Individualized Interdisciplinary Studies (INS)

Supervisor: Dimitris Krallis

 AQ 6th Floor


Research interests

  • Medieval Byzantine Literature and Historiography
  • Byzantine Rhetoric
  • Urban Space
  • Collective Memory
  • Ekphrasis
  • Manuscript Culture
  • Reception of Antiquity in Byzantium
  • Komnenian Culture and Society
  • Intellectual History
  • Legacy of Byzantium


  • MSc, Late Antique, Byzantine, and Islamic Studies, University of Edinburgh
  • BA, Medieval History, University of St. Andrews


I am a born-and-raised New Yorker, bibliophile, writer, and, most importantly, an aspiring Byzantinist. My interest in the subject began in my latter adolescence, and was piqued by the fact that, having grown up in Manhattan, I came to conceive of Byzantine Constantinople as a kind of medieval reflection of the world I myself knew; colorful, populous, and learned. Fortunately, in the ensuing years, such fanciful notions were moderated by a perusal of the relevant scholarly literature. I attained an undergraduate degree in Medieval History from the University of St. Andrews, and an MSc in Late Antique, Byzantine, and Islamic Studies from the University of Edinburgh. Currently, I am pursuing an interdisciplinary PhD in Byzantine History and Literature at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University.

My research addresses Byzantium writ large, particularly the ways in which the literati chose to express themselves and describe the world around them. I am focused on what might be termed the “long Komnenian period” (c. 1050-1220), an era when the ancient empire confronted a world in which it struggled to retain imperial status, and waves of crisis compelled educated Byzantines to interrogate the foundations of their identity. These conditions arguably led to a reinvigoration of literary Hellenism in Byzantium and a cultural flowering in a time of political uncertainty, tenuous recovery, and ultimate tragedy. A major preoccupation of my work is the secular literature and rhetoric of this tumultuous period. Furthermore, I am interested in authorial self-presentation, collective memory, and the dynamic and connective role played by classicizing learning in Byzantine society, as well as urbanity and urban culture in Byzantium. My doctoral research is concerned with ekphrases of Constantinople and its monuments, especially in their capacity both as expressions of the self-confident “civic humanism” of the literati in the years before the Fourth Crusade, and as poignant and emotionally charged texts designed to evoke the splendors and antique heritage of a world irrevocably lost in the aftermath of that disastrous event.

Select awards

  • 2021, SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies Graduate Research Assistant Scholarships
  • 2021, Hellenic Studies Graduate Fellowship Supplemental Award