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The Formation of Constantinople as a Sacred Center

Sarah E. Insley, Harvard University, Junior Fellow 2009–2010

This year of fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks has been invaluable in terms of the progress I was able to make on my dissertation, and more generally with respect to my development as a scholar. When I arrived here in September, I had just defended my dissertation prospectus for a project titled “Constructing the Sacred Center: Constantinople as a Holy City in Early Byzantine Literature.” During the fall term, I was able to complete research on primary source material for the first two chapters of the dissertation, drafts of which were finished by mid-February. I spent the remainder of the spring term drawing together sources and completing preliminary research for a third chapter, which I will write in the first part of the summer. Thanks to my year at Dumbarton Oaks, I am on schedule to complete a full draft of the project by the end of the fall term next year, and to finish my degree next spring. Starting a dissertation is a critical, and at times daunting, period in a scholar's career. As I worked through the first stages of my own project, I could not have asked for a better community in which to shape my ideas than Dumbarton Oaks. The rich conversation and helpful suggestions of my fellow fellows; the variety of stimulating talks and events throughout the year; and the vigilance of staff in assuring that all of us had the resources necessary to complete our projects were central in giving me a solid foundation upon which I can finish my dissertation and my degree. My deepest thanks to you all: I will always have the fondest memories of my fellowship year at Dumbarton Oaks.