The 2023 Conway Lectures: Leonora Neville (UW–Madison), "Wisdom, Virtue, and Intellectual Women in the Eastern Roman Empire"


Location: Eck Visitors Center Auditorium and live-streamed on our YouTube channel (View on

Picture of Hagia Sophia mosaic with the Virgin, Irene, JohnImage of the Hagia Sophia mosaic with the Virgin

This talk will be held in-person and streamed live on our YouTube channel. Vist the event main page to find the viewing link.

About the Talk

Ideas about ethics and nature in eastern Roman society created a system of gender practices that enabled exceptionally virtuous women to engage in pursuits that were outside of the sphere of normatively approved women's activities. Focusing on the career of the twelfth-century author and intellectual Anna Komnene, we will explore the workings of this system of gender exceptionalism and its limits.

About the Speaker

Leonora Neville studies the eastern Roman Empire, particularly religion, gender, and the importance of the classical past for medieval Roman culture. She reconsidered the strength of the famed "Byzantine" bureaucracy and presented a new understanding provincial government in Authority in Byzantine Provincial Society, 950-1100 (Cambridge 2004). The study of cultural memories of classical Roman masculinity led her to write Heroes and Romans in Twelfth-Century Byzantium (Cambridge 2012). She offered a new interpretation of Anna Komnene’s strategies for writing classicizing Greek history as a woman in Anna Komnene: The Life and Work of a Medieval Historian (Oxford 2016). To help open her field to broader study she wrote a Guide to Byzantine Historical Writing (Cambridge 2018) and a brief introduction to Byzantine Gender (Arc 2019). She is the John and Jeanne Rowe Professor of Byzantine History and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison.

About the Series

In 2002, the Medieval Institute inaugurated a lecture series in honor of Robert M. and Ricki Conway. Robert Conway was a 1966 graduate of Notre Dame and trustee of the University, He was (and his wife Ricki continues to be) a long-time friend and supporter of the Medieval Institute. The annual Conway Lectures bring senior scholars of international distinction to Notre Dame each fall to speak on topics across a variety of disciplines.