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Tyler Fellows in Residence

Posted On October 18, 2013 | 09:59 am | by sarahbo | Permalink

The William R. Tyler Fellowships at Dumbarton Oaks support two years of travel and dissertation completion for advanced Harvard graduate students in areas related to the fields of study at Dumbarton Oaks. We are pleased to present Saskia Dirkse, a 2012-14 Tyler Fellow, currently in residence at Dumbarton Oaks and in the second year of her Fellowship.

Saskia Dirkse – 2012/14 Tyler Fellow in Byzantine Studies
I am writing my dissertation on early Byzantine attitudes towards and teachings about the end of life, death and the afterlife, as expressed in popular religious tales and related hagiographical and patristic texts. These stories of ascetics living in tombs, visionary tours of heaven and hell, encounters with avenging angels, and the temporary resurrection of the dead (to name but a few) represent collections in narrative form of warnings and instructions to the reader or hearer on how best to prepare for the end. Tales of this sort hold particular interest for modern readers not only because they reveal Byzantine attitudes towards and preoccupations with death as presented through the filter of early monastic culture, but because they also offer a fascinating view into the architecture of early Byzantine imagination: after all, how does one still on this side of death picture that “undiscover’d country from whose bourne no traveller returns”? After several months of preparatory work in the fall, I traveled to Europe in early February to continue my research in Leiden and Oxford. In Leiden I was able to make use of the university library’s extensive holdings and facilities, profiting especially from its collection of books relevant to religious tales and popular culture in the medieval West. In March I traveled to Oxford and consulted a number of manuscripts and unpublished dissertations in the Bodleian Library related to my research. I am very much looking forward to being at D.O. again in September, joining the work on the institute’s history and continuing work on the Manuscripts on Microfilm database.