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Derek Krueger

Oral History Interview with Derek Krueger undertaken via Zoom by Anna Stavrakopoulou and Audrey Pettner on July 29, 2020. At Dumbarton Oaks, Derek Krueger was a Junior Fellow (1990–1991), a Fellow (1998–1999), and a Senior Fellow of Byzantine Studies (2015–2021).

Audrey Pettner: When was the first time that you heard of Dumbarton Oaks and what were your initial impressions of the institution?

Derek Krueger: At some point when I was in my second year of graduate school, I was in Washington for some other reason, and I was taking a long walk with a friend and he said, “We should go see this museum.” My first introduction to Dumbarton Oaks was going and seeing the Byzantine and Pre-Columbian Collections.

Then not so many months later maybe, or the next year, a friend in graduate school ran after me with a call for applications and said I should apply for a fellowship that Dumbarton Oaks was running at the Gennadius Library in Athens. I applied and I came down for an interview. I didn’t get the fellowship, but that was the first time I got into the inner workings. That was the first time I was in the gardens, too.

The following year, I applied for a junior fellowship. I was far enough along with my dissertation at that point. The interview went much better that time.

DK: The questions were tough, actually. Angeliki Laiou was the director, and John Meyendorff was asking me questions, and Glen Bowersock. I think that time Ioli [Kalavrezou] was in her very first year as a senior fellow. I don’t remember exactly who else was in the room but, I don’t know, it seems like the strangest word for it but I guess I had acquitted myself reasonably well.

Anna Stavrakopoulou: It’s interesting, Derek, because we interviewed many people of our generation like Betsy [Bolman] and Sharon Gerstel and now you. They’re all saying that within their first encounter with Dumbarton Oaks. Angeliki Laiou was there, so she’s part of the first DO experience of all of you.

DK: I think everyone found her formidable. Certainly, everyone who was a junior fellow found her formidable. I can tell you a kind of funny story. I was the very first research report my year and we were in the Study and I was working on holy fools and I made a firm statement that the life of Symeon the Fool wasn’t really about humility.

She said, “Mr. Krueger, isn’t it the case that these are all about humility, about humiliating yourself?” I guess I had the presence of mind to say something along the lines of, “That seems to be the case for later tradition, but it’s not happening in this text.” She was about to go for another round and [Alexander] Kazhdan leaned across the table and looked her in the eye. He said, “Angeliki, he is right.”

I don’t know what broke the ice, but whatever was formidable about her, I don’t know, her respect for me was always clear after that. She gave me a lot of good mentoring. I’m the sort of person who writes very intensely for 20 minutes or half an hour and then has to jump up and take a walk. At a certain point, she saw me walking in the halls of the main building, back and forth, and she said, “Mr. Krueger, you are a pacer, too.”

I figured yes, she was initially formidable, but after a while I think she became a champion of sorts of mine and I’m really grateful for that.

AS: That’s wonderful. Who were some Byzantinists you interacted with the most during your many appointments at DO?

DK: Well, during my junior fellowship, it should be said that the most important figures were primarily women at the middle of their careers who were in residence that year or traveling in and out a lot. That year there was no director of Byzantine Studies and so Nancy Ševčenko had come to spend the year at DO. She’d never had a tenure-track post. She was such a wonderful mentor. She was so generous. In some sense, I was more than willing to become her student.

She really encouraged me. She ended up doing a weekly seminar on the Menologion of Basil II. That and some of the encouragement she gave me one on one, those were really formative for me in that I think they turned someone who was really a scholar of late antiquity—or becoming a scholar of late antiquity—into a Byzantinist. I think she’s the one who said, “Derek, if you want to be a Byzantinist, you can be one.” She was certainly important.

One of the other fellows that year, at least for half the year, was Annemarie Weyl Carr. Together, the two of them convinced me that I shouldn’t be afraid of images, and though I was trained in texts, I should become more familiar with the visual history of Byzantium and ultimately with its material culture. That really did shift the trajectory of my career, not so much for that first project, but already in the second big project. I was working with images, I was working with objects. That’s become a really important part of my work as a historian of Byzantine religion.

The other person who was coming in and out—it’s funny because they’re all the same generation—was Alice-Mary Talbot, who at that point, she also had never had a tenure-track job and was more than happy, I think, to be a good mentor. She was coming in weekly or a couple of times a month for the Dumbarton Oaks component of the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium that she was working on. She was a great person to talk with about hagiography.

Those are some of the most important early encounters in that period. Also, George Dennis and Elizabeth Fisher were there working on Psellos and they were incredibly encouraging. They were patient with me. I think they taught me a lot of respect for the patience it takes to do good philology. They were good people to have around.

Of course, Kazhdan, who was about the same age as my grandfather. I think there’s a certain way in which he became a grandfatherly presence. We would go walking after lunch together a couple times a week. When the pool opened, I was his spotter, so we’d go swimming together. I don’t think I ever had a sense of everything that he was probably able to teach me, but when it came to thinking about hagiography and the source that it could be for doing Byzantine history, it was wonderful.

AS: This is great. What about when you were a regular fellow? Not a junior fellow. Do you remember any people from that phase?

DK: Yes, that’s funny too because the tables were turned in an odd way and I was no longer the junior fellow and I was senior to the junior fellows and senior to a lot of the regular fellows as well. I think that was one of those years where you wake up and realize you’re beginning to do some of the mentoring yourself. Holger Klein was there for half the year and that’s turned out to be a really important long-term, scholarly friendship of mine. Brigitte Pitarakis, with whom I’m still regularly in touch and now I’m working on something with her for the second time for an exhibition in Istanbul. That was really important. Those were critical experiences.

Then there were some people who are working at DO who I never overlapped as a fellow with but were present on appointments like Linda Safran, who was another person who really encouraged me to do work with material culture and visual culture.

AS: It’s had a transformative impact on your work, that you came as a text-based person and then you were initiated to images.

DK: I came as a late antiquity person. I was in a program called the Religions of Late Antiquity at Princeton. I’d actually gone there to do Latin stuff. I was going to study Augustine, and I went to Princeton because that’s where the primary Augustine scholar was, Peter Brown. My Latin was good, and I actually only started taking Greek the summer before I started grad school. It was an odd shift into Greek language as a primary interest.

I was doing religions of late antiquity and at the time it meant I was mostly training for jobs that had New Testament in their job description. Even though I was writing on a seventh-century text [the Life of Symeon the Fool], I was very much tying it into second-century realities. I don’t think I thought of myself as a Byzantinist. I think one of the peculiar things is I arrived [at DO] as a scholar in training of late antiquity, and I left as a potential Byzantinist. I think it took a while to realize the potential there, but I think DO made me a Byzantinist.

AP: Dumbarton Oaks is, of course, an interesting institution in that it has the three very different fields all under one roof. How would you characterize the interaction among the fellows of the three different fields throughout your time at Dumbarton Oaks, and how has that changed maybe from your time as a junior fellow to now?

DK: I can’t speak to now as much as perhaps you’d want me to, but it’s certainly the case that when I was a junior fellow, some of my most productive conversations was with a junior fellow in Pre-Columbian, who’s now a senior fellow in Pre-Columbian, namely, Barbara Mundy. For some reason, given the nature of our academic interests, we could always talk. She understood what I was doing with my material, and I think to some extent, I understood what she was doing with her material.

I think especially for me, I haven’t been able to develop and grow as a scholar by only talking to people working on the same stuff or are only working in the same subfield. That was a really important connection for me in terms of becoming a scholar.

The second time around, when I was a regular fellow, there was a really strong cohort in [Garden and] Landscape. At this point, I’m not sure that they were critical to my formation as a Byzantinist, but I think between them and also a couple of the Landscape people from my first stint, I found that I wanted to know more about gardens. I’ve learned to want to travel the world and see not just monuments but gardens and to think about gardens. Beth Meyer was in residence for a semester during my second stint.

AS: She’s currently the chair of the senior fellows in Garden and Landscape.

DK: I was lucky in that I got all these pre-senior fellow types to be around. I think, not so long ago, either I or Gene sent a note to Beth saying we’re going to this place and what gardens should we see? She immediately sent us articles to read about gardens there. I think that that’s something that can happen because of the peculiar nexus of fields at Dumbarton Oaks.

I haven’t until recently traveled much in Latin America, either in Mexico or in South America. It’s funny that years after having been a junior fellow, I still remember things I learned about the Andes when I was a junior fellow so that when I was in Ecuador, I could go to a museum and look at things and thought, “Oh, someone told me about this one.” In some sense, it’s just part of the odd coincidence of fields at DO which obviously has to do with the Blisses’ interests, but it certainly enriched my life. If not necessarily my life as a scholar, it certainly enriched my life as a person, as a human, as a traveler.

AS: Thank you. At any given stage in your relationship with Dumbarton Oaks, how did your experience differ from that of the other stages? Like when you’ve been a junior fellow, a regular fellow, or a senior fellow?

DK: Some of it is just about the transitions one goes through in a career from being a student to being a scholar on the cusp of publishing a second book and charting for myself in that case—while I was working on Writing and Holiness—a trajectory separate from my training or that moved beyond my training, or claiming my place in the field separate from the one that I’ve been prepared for by graduate school.

Then, as a senior fellow, I think moving into a chance to give back to a community that’s been formative, not just Dumbarton Oaks, but especially I think even I would say the field of Byzantine studies as a whole, to be able to lend my perspective, sometimes my judgment and certainly my mentoring to the community, that’s been great. I didn’t hesitate when I was asked to consider serving this way, but it’s a really different role. It’s certainly very different from being at the library and at lunches for the course of a whole year.

AP: You’ve already mentioned this a little bit, but in what ways did you make use of Dumbarton Oaks resources? How do you find that the collection at Dumbarton Oaks, particularly the material collection, of course, but also the library uniquely contributed to your research?

DΚ: I’m one of these people who, as I said, who writes for 20 minutes or 30 minutes and then needs to go do something else. When I was a junior fellow, I was probably in the museum three afternoons a week, because I would go wandering in the building, and it was easy because I was just upstairs on the old Bliss bedroom with the other junior fellows. I’d walk down the stairs and I would go look at different objects. Sometimes I would be there by myself, but sometimes someone else would be there next to me.

There’s nothing quite like having Annemarie Weyl Carr next to you while you’re looking at a late Byzantine miniature mosaic, helping you to see things and understand them and imagine them in different ways. To have Nancy Ševčenko next to you while you’re looking at the Riha paten, which has actually become a touchstone for a while in my scholarship. I was writing a lot about sixth-century liturgy, and the objects in the collection at DO that are central to my thinking about that.

I also had a deal with myself that if I wrote all day Monday and I wrote all of Tuesday morning, I could reward myself. I made a plan that every Tuesday afternoon, I would go to a different free museum around DC. Right after lunch, I would go off, usually on foot or a combination of foot and metro to some museum, and I actually had a roster of museums that I hadn’t yet seen that I would get to.

Part of the luxury of that is that I was visually fed. “Nourished” seems a little pretentious, but I was eating visually, a lot, and saw a lot of things that year. Certainly, more than I’d ever used museums as part of my thinking while I was a student before that. So that was important.

Subsequently, I think I’ve worked closely with curators when I’m working on a project and I need to write about specific objects. The museum has been incredibly generous with me in making things available. Not just photos, but sometimes the objects themselves. I think that was a springboard into some work I did as one of the academic consultants to the big Relics and Reliquaries exhibition.

I think Dumbarton Oaks and the experience of being in Washington and spending time, not just in museums, but eventually with museum people helped enrich my career, and helped me be able to talk about material religion and Byzantium in ways that I think would never have been impossible if I hadn’t had an early encounter with Dumbarton Oaks.

AS: Wonderful. I assume that you have attended many symposia and conferences at Dumbarton Oaks. Which stand out? Are there any that stand out in your memory for any particular reason?

DK: I think the first one I went to was the “Holy Image one that was—you probably have the dates better than I do. That would probably be like, 1990 maybe. I suppose I had just been awarded a fellowship, so it was before I arrived as a fellow.

Of course, there’s the fleeting part, which is—it’s not really entirely fleeting—but suddenly you’re in the Music Room and it’s amazing. The room itself could easily become a distraction from listening good scholarship. In fact, actually, I think just the whole pageantry and drama of that impressed me but also the quality of ideas that were in circulation and the scholarly conversation.

On some level, it was clear already then that there were certain very eminent personages who would often reach out for that mic real quick and who would say whatever it was they might have said if they’d given the paper themselves. There was also a lot of less formal conversation going on. I think that turned out to be really important, just to listen to people talking about icons and Byzantine religious visual culture over coffee, over the meals, things like that. That was a good one.

I hadn’t been invited for a while and then the “Old Testament in Byzantium” got going and I was invited to that. That was one of the years that the Music Room was being renovated so we were actually down on the Mall. I remember being disappointed that my first DO symposium wasn’t going to be in the Music Room. When I finally did get to give a paper in the Music Room, I was a bit thrilled.

AS: When was that? When was the first time you gave a paper in the Music Room?

DK: It was the relics conference. And we would be able to have slides on the huge screen. As a person who’d been initially trained in text, it just felt like, this is great. This is a kind of presentation that Dumbarton Oaks has enabled me to be able to do on so many levels. I even remarked it before I started the paper, that I couldn’t believe I’d be presenting in the Music Room.

My career’s been in North Carolina and sometimes my leaves have been in Princeton, or in DC, I’ve been able to follow the symposia pretty closely over a long period of time. In essence, I guess, I’m luckier than some academics for whom it’s really hard to get to Dumbarton Oaks. When the topic has interested me, I’ve gone whether it was directly in my field or not. I feel lucky for that. Just the fact that I haven’t been so far away, and so I’ve been on the in-house invite list for a lot of things. It’s been great.

I remember a really good colloquium when the Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents came out, and Alice-Mary said, “Do you want to come and be present for this?” and I said, “Absolutely.” I remember just really being excited to be—where else in the US was I going to be, at an event completely concentrated on the history of Byzantine monasticism? It was so invigorating. There were some great papers at that conference.

AP: Do you have any stories from any of your times at Dumbarton Oaks that stand out in your mind that you think should be part of the institutional memory as well?

DK: What kind of stories are people telling you?

AP: Anything that comes to mind. We’ve heard all sorts of things.

AS: We’ve heard all sorts of things, but if you don’t feel like sharing a story, don’t feel obliged to respond.

DK: No. Obviously, it’s worth having in the record, I guess, the story which I’ve told before about Kazhdan leaning across the table and telling Angeliki to lay off me.

There’s another funny story actually from the same research report. I’ve written on Symeon the Holy Fool who, among other things, eats a big pot of baked beans on Holy Thursday in the public square. We should expect the normal results. I think I’d used the word “fart” in my presentation. I had been careful about which four-letter words to use and which ones not to. I think I used the word “defecate,” the Cynic philosophers that the Holy Fools were partly based on, defecated in public.

At a certain point, Irfan Shahîd was going to ask a question. His first thing to do was to pause for a long moment, then he said, “I don't believe that I’ve ever heard such robust Anglo-Saxonisms in this room before.” He wasn’t scandalized. I think he was doing the initial performance of being scandalized. I don’t know. Then he asked a really lovely question, but for a number of months after that, people just looked at me and raised their eyebrows and said, “Robust Anglo-Saxonisms.” I have fond memories of Irfan, but that’s probably my best Irfan story.

AS: You told me when we had lunch at some point that you were swimming with Kazhdan. You told us you’ll share the story with us today as well. Any other things that come to mind?

DK: In the old days, the people on the front desk were happy to let you sneak into the garden on a snowy day. I have wonderful memories of going for a walk in the garden after a dense snow. And [another time] going into the garden with a bottle of prosecco and some strawberries in the springtime and some friends and sitting and having a really lovely little snack and celebrating a sunset, I think.

There’re some wonderful times. Other scholars who are not in any of the fields covered at Dumbarton Oaks who’ve come to visit me, that’s the only moment they've ever had any scholarly jealousy about Byzantine studies. They perfectly well understand how obscure Byzantine studies can seem within the American academy, but then they come, and they see the digs, and the envy creeps up.

AS: Sure. How does the relationship between Harvard and Dumbarton Oaks, as well as between Dumbarton Oaks and other Washington cultural institutions like the National Gallery affect the studies of you and your fellow scholars at DO?

DK: It’s interesting in that, obviously I wasn’t trained at Harvard. I got in, but they didn’t give me a big enough stipend, so I went off to Princeton to do my doctorate. It was an odd thing as a junior fellow to be a part of the Harvard orbit. I guess it was unclear to me at that point, what that meant for Dumbarton Oaks. How integrated into a Harvard academic program was it? Or was it really a separate institution in Washington that also fell under the trustees of Harvard?

I had been an undergraduate at Amherst and my model was the Folger, which was really very separate from Amherst College, even though it was under the trustees. It turned out actually that the links between Harvard and Dumbarton Oaks are considerably tighter than that, partly because of the boards of senior fellows having a lot of Harvard faculty on it.

I think also because there was a lot more coordinated programming of various sorts. I think that meant that I became closely associated with things that Harvard was able to offer scholars in my field.

As for other institutions in Washington, most of that happened behind the scenes that I was looking at, so I wasn’t necessarily fully aware of how tightly linked Dumbarton Oaks might or might not be into the world of Washington. I think that those links have become so much more explicit than they were, say 30 years ago, when I was a junior fellow. In general, but probably also, they’ve become more visible to the people who are there for the year as fellows.

When I would leave Dumbarton Oaks as a junior fellow to go off and go to another museum, I really felt like I was leaving one place and going to an entirely different place. It only later began to strike me that Dumbarton Oaks was a place within Washington. I was going from one of those places to another one.

There were tighter links, at some point, I think with the Center for Hellenic Studies. I remember trudging down through the mud and up the hill to the other side. Frequently, actually, as a junior fellow. By the time I was a fellow, I don’t remember making that trek at all anymore. I don’t know what that’s like now.

AS: There is interaction and it all depends actually on the topics. So people, they do go to the CHS. We organize also visits for the fellows. We take our fellows there and they bring their fellows.

DK: I guess it’s just that I clicked with some of them. Harriet and Michael Flower were there. They were fresh out of graduate school, themselves. They were really kind to me and thoughtful. Then I guess one of my graduate school philosophy professors, the guy who taught me a Plotinus seminar, was there so maybe that was unique to me, but I was spending time over there, sometimes having lunch over there, or spending the evening over at faculty fellow houses over there and having meals. That was an important connection for me.

Then, of course, there were the universities. I found myself really delighted to be able to get to know colleagues at Catholic University or GW, not so much at Georgetown, I guess Irfan was my one person, but I certainly knew people at Catholic and those became lifelong colleagues.

AP: How would you describe Dumbarton Oaks’ role in the international context of Byzantine studies, and have you seen this change over the years?

DK: That’s an interesting question. I suppose I’m in an odd place to talk about it now because I’m chair of the US National Committee for Byzantine Studies, which means I represent all US-based Byzantinists regardless of whatever passports they hold to the international body. In terms of the organization of the field internationally, that’s the organization and the trajectory that matters. Dumbarton Oaks has no representation to that body and isn’t directly involved in any of the decision-making for that body, but everybody in the world knows that Dumbarton Oaks is in the US.

Everybody knows it’s one of a small number of leading research institutes dedicated to Byzantine studies. The fellowships are obviously some of the plum fellowships that people can get in the field, and people know that internationally. To that extent, I suppose Dumbarton Oaks’ position internationally is central or critical. It’s about the critical availability of resources, resources like the library, like the archives, like the museum collection, resources like the scholarly conversation, which is, of course, different from one year to the next, but is an important part of what happens in Byzantine studies internationally.

I think of all of the centers for Byzantine studies, it’s one of the places which is most international by its very nature, in that fellows come from all over the place on a regular basis. On the other hand, it’s not training graduate students and it’s not got a permanent faculty. It also doesn’t have a kind of dynasty in the sense that an institute such as in Vienna or like a community in Paris would have in a sense of having this long-term trajectory and tradition, or replication or a passing on of a particular version of the tradition. I think that’s important.

I guess it means that Dumbarton Oaks has a mixed place [in the international community]. It’s not preserving a version of Byzantine studies. It’s not actually training people in the traditional Byzantine studies. Its impact is in some sense, less focused, and more varied.

AS: You have been at Dumbarton Oaks under the directorship of Angeliki Laiou and then as a senior fellow under the directorship of Jan Ziolkowski.

DK: I was a fellow under Ned, too.

AS: Under Keenan as well. How did the initiatives they undertook as directors impact the larger field of Byzantine studies?

DK: I suppose the most important thing that Ned Keenan did for Byzantine studies was work on the library. Although, there’s a part of my brain which still knows exactly how to go down in the Main House to the bottom floor and move the compact stacks and find exactly the book I want, which was still under the old Brinkler [classification] system. The way in which one can do research in the new library is so much more profoundly integrated into the way that people are doing their research before and after they’re at the library.

Instead of having a library which is a little bit of another planet placed into odd corners of an old house, you’re actually in an institutional library that looks and feels and functions like an institutional library most the time. I think that that was a big change. I think partly because I was trained a little bit anthropologically, and certainly, in critical theory, the fact that all the books got blended and that where there were gaps and the theoretical bridge fields, between especially Pre-Columbian and Byzantine, the library transformed and became a different kind of place because it was integrated. I think that was very important.

I mourn the loss of fellows in the house. I think that there’s something about the formality of having an academic office in a library that is different from being in the informal or more informal setting of the house, but I understand why things happened the way they did. The library itself, just bringing the collection together I think was really important.

AS: What about Laiou and Jan?

DK: One of the things that was wonderful about being a junior fellow when the director of Dumbarton Oaks herself was a really prominent and field changing Byzantinist, meant that there were multiple levels of leadership around Byzantine Studies. The research reports were so much more intense in some ways for having Angeliki and a whole bunch of other Byzantinists in the room who were working at DO, some of whom had formidable profiles of their own. I think she was able to set a tone for Byzantine Studies.

I have no idea whether it worked for the folks in Landscape or Pre-Columbian, I suppose they felt like they were always at risk of being poor relations, but for Byzantine Studies, it was actually wonderful.

Angeliki was in the vanguard of feminist studies in Byzantium and to have that kind of a voice present right from the top, especially for the junior fellows, who were trying to find their footing—we were all boys in my year. I think that that was really encouraging. I think she provided a really important model. That was critical for Byzantine Studies, the Laiou years. I don’t know what somebody in another field would say on tape about whether that was good for their field, but I think it was great for Byzantine Studies.

Jan’s push that will be important over the long haul was that he encouraged the fields at Dumbarton Oaks to clarify their relevance within the humanities, and also articulate more broadly the ways in which we talk to a broader public. I think this is a conversation that’s been going on university campuses throughout the world, but certainly, here in the US.

Jan had a lot of good ideas about being forward-facing toward the public and probably pushed Byzantine Studies to do more of that. I think that there are ways in which the next phase at Dumbarton Oaks might involve turning back inward a bit and trying to figure out how we regroup and where we’re going as we go forward. I think the degree to which the humanities have been under siege, even with all of our clear-headedness, we probably still underestimated. While I think a lot of us have gotten used to talking to the broader public, there’s some repair work in the field itself that we need to do going forward.

I think Byzantinists are shocked to discover that the alt-right is interested in using Byzantium to celebrate their purposes, and there’s just work we need to do. At least in terms of the tradition of thinking about Dumbarton Oaks as a place where the potentially insular fields have a responsibility to talk out more, to speak out more broadly to the public, I think Jan has given us a number of good initiatives in that direction.

AP: That leads so well into the next question, actually. Do you think that Dumbarton Oaks has an academic duty to launch public outreach initiatives, particularly in regards to the role of Byzantine history?

DK: It’s a difficult question in some ways. I think the most interesting energy coming from Byzantine studies into this broader public discourse is coming largely from younger Byzantinists around the world. If you look at the energy that’s been put into thinking critically about the place of Byzantine studies, say, in right-wing discourses on the internet, for instance. Byzantine studies doesn’t have quite the problem that medieval studies has, or classics, but we’re all lumped in together in some people’s minds. There are certain things about Byzantium that the blogosphere has found attractive and are deeply troubling.

The energy to intervene is not going to come from an institution like Dumbarton Oaks. I think Dumbarton Oaks can listen carefully and can try to figure out where it can use its resources to help this conversation, but even my own generation of Byzantinists is watching in awe as much more recently minted PhDs and graduate students are organizing the public statements, doing the clarifying work, running the teach-ins at the Byzantine studies conferences, and things like that.

AS: No, but Dumbarton Oaks can contribute to the discussion with very knowledgeable people who know what they’re talking about, for sure.

DK: Absolutely.

AS: Thank you. What projects or fields of study would you like to see the Byzantine Studies program support or emphasize in the coming years? This is a wish-list type of a question.

DK: Yes. Well, some things can happen organically, and some things need Dumbarton Oaks’ organizing and resources. It seems that the field of archaeology is going to always need help and support. It seems to me that, to the extent that Dumbarton Oaks has grants that support archaeology, that’s critical. To the extent that it opens its archives to people who are increasingly doing research through archival records, Dumbarton Oaks should probably continue to be strongly investing in that.

I think Dumbarton Oaks has made a really interesting transition from having an art museum full of beautiful things, to being an art museum with beautiful things that’s also very well plugged in to the material turn in scholarly conversation. In this way Dumbarton Oaks is a repository for important objects, not just important art but important objects. It means that Dumbarton Oaks has a responsibility to continue to make those things available in multiple formats, to welcome scholars who want to work with the collection, and to study the collection.

Libraries are an odd thing. We’re all aware that our research was shifting anyway and now, one of the things that the pandemic has made extremely clear is that we desperately need stuff to be available to us electronically. I think the model for so many research libraries—Dumbarton Oaks included—is to have the physical books. I think that that’s important, but I think, going forward, digital collections are going to be even more central. I’ve been inside a library only once since March, but I’ve been on my university’s library website pretty much every day that I have sat down to do any work.

I think it’s going to be important to make resources available digitally. Whether it makes sense to make them available beyond the small scope of people who are currently fellows or not is an important conversation to have. Historically, the entire Washington community's been able to come and sit in the library. Now that that can’t happen, maybe we’re learning something about the resources that Dumbarton Oaks might be able to make available more broadly. It might be an important conversation to have, whether former fellows should be able to have electronic library access as we go forward.

I also think we’re not yet into the middle of a long conversation about gender in Byzantium, or gender and sexuality in Byzantium. I think Dumbarton Oaks has at times been in a position to take on some supportive roles, and I hope that that will keep being the case.

I remember when I first had my hands on a list of resources for teaching about women in Byzantium. They used to go around in a Xerox form, Thalia Gouma-Peterson and a couple of other scholars—I guess Alice-Mary Talbot was involved in this. In my early years as a faculty member, I wouldn’t mind that, but the world has changed. There’s an explosion of scholarship. There has been an explosion in our understanding of how we might frame questions, or what kind of information we might get out of our evidence. What counts as evidence has changed. I think that’s important work, and it’s not going to suddenly not be an important issue.

I think one of the ways that Byzantine studies remains culturally relevant in the broader society is by asking the questions that the broader society needs us to be asking. That includes questions about race and ethnicity in Byzantium as well. Dumbarton Oaks has made a wonderful pivot from being largely focused on Greek-language cultures, into a broader eastern Mediterranean focus. I think as we go forward, the relevance of Byzantine studies lies in including Georgian, and Armenian, Arab, Slavic, Coptic, and Syrian parts of the world because that is also part of the Byzantine story, and it’s part of what the library and the collection are set up to help us understand better.

AP: Thank you. Well, I’ll go ahead and ask the final question then. You’ve answered this a little bit already as well. In a post COVID-19 world, how do you envision Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks changing for both the scholars and the fellows, and also for the public?

DK: I think there’s going to be pent-up demand. At the bare minimum, every day I think, “Gosh. Wouldn’t it be great to just drive up there, park on the street and run around the library like a crazy person for two hours to finish all the footnotes on this article?” I also think Byzantine Studies is going to come out of this, like all the rest of the humanities, considerably weaker in pretty much every country in the world. I think that the resources at Dumbarton Oaks are going to become all the more precious to sustaining a field, which beyond the walls of Dumbarton Oaks is part of a beleaguered academic environment.

I think that that means that programming is going to be important. I think we’re going to discover that virtual participation in the programming went better than we thought it would and might be a more important piece of the programming than we thought it might have been. I would hope that Dumbarton Oaks is going to be able to open up access to symposia and colloquia and public lectures to a broader online public.

I think we’re discovering that there are some advantages to being able to have scholars from Australia participate who couldn’t get on a plane, whether it was because of COVID or just because it’s too far for them this week to get on a plane and travel. I think that Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks probably needs to take advantage of the lessons of COVID. The not-so-good lessons, but a lot of the positive lessons about scholarly connection and scholarly community.

Dumbarton Oaks has had a rap, I think, probably unjustly to some extent, for being a fairly closed and insular kind of environment. I don’t know whether we should even rehash whether that’s accurate or not. It seems to me that we could come out of this fairly decisively demonstrating that that’s not the case. Some of that’s about virtual and digital access to resources and participation in public events.

AS: Yes. Wonderful. Thank you so much. Thank you. Do you feel, Derek, that you would like to share something that we have not asked, or would you like to add something now? You have given us a lot of material to think about and your own personal angle, which is fascinating. Anything else that you might want to add?

DK: Not at the moment. I'm sure that the conversation is an ongoing one.

AS: I very much appreciate your interview. Thank you so much, Derek. Thank you. Thank you.

AP: Thank you so much. It was wonderful to meet you, Professor Krueger. Thank you.

DK: Thanks, Audrey.

AP: Bye.

AS: Bye. Bye.