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 Sean Strong

Sean Strong

Research student,

Overview

I am a PhD candidate researching leadership depictions in Theophylact Simocatta's History. My main research focus is the reign of Emperor Maurice (AD 582-602), but this also extends to his predecessors, the Emperor Justin II (AD 565-578) and Tiberius II Constantine (AD 578-582). I have particular interest in the imperial and military leadership of the Roman Empire, Sasanian Empire, and the Avar Khaganate which also encompasses the internal and external perception of leadership throughout the landscape of Eastern Europe and the Near East. My general research interests are expansive and vary throughout the Late Antique and Byzantine world, and include military, political, and social history.


Academic Background:



  • PhD, Ancient History - Cardiff University (2019 - Present) Thesis Title: 'Generals and Rulers in Theophylact Simocatta's History: Ideals and Practices of Roman and Sasanian Leadership in a Time of Transition, AD 565-602', Supervisors: Professor Shaun Tougher and Dr Eve MacDonald 

  • Mst, Medieval History (Byzantine Studies) - University of Oxford (2017-18) Thesis Title: 'Triumph and Treachery: A Comparative Study of Usurpation in the Late-Eleventh Century Byzantium - The ‘Saviour’, the ‘Tragic Insurgent’ and, the ‘Wolf in Waiting’', Supervisor: Professor James Howard-Johnston 

  • BA, Ancient and Medieval History - University of Wales, Lampeter (2014-17) Thesis Title: 'The Role of Emperor Justinian in the Decline of the Byzantine Empire', Supervisor: Dr Harriett Webster 

Research

Research interests



  • Late Roman and 'Byzantine' History (AD 330-1204)

  • Sasanian Iran (AD 224-651)

  • The Steppe Nomads and Danubian Powers (Dacians, Avars, Lombards, Slavs, and Pechenegs) 

  • Imperial Leadership 

  • Usurpation in Late Antiquity and Byzantium 

  • Generalship, Warfare, and Frontiers 


CfPs 2021/22:



  • Late Call for Papers (IMC, Leeds 2022) Panel Title: 'Empires without Borders: Collaboration and Rivalry between the Roman and Sasanian Empires, II: Exploring Poltical-Cultural Interaction through Identity and Exchange' Deadline: 16th June 2022. (IMC, Leeds 2022 - Late Call for Papers


Conferences and Seminars:



  • [Forthcoming] 24th International Congress of Byzantine Studies, Venice and Padua - Thematic Strand: 'The Edge of Traitors.' Part 1: Treason and Disloyalty in Civil and Military Affairs, 4th-6th c. (August 2022) - Paper Title: Bahram Chobin's Revolt: A Sasanian Asset and Ally of East Rome in the Late Sixth Century? 

  • [Forthcoming] University of Leeds - International Medieval Congress: Panel Title - Empires without Borders: Collaboration and Rivalry between the Roman and Sasanian Empires, I - Politics and Warfare along the Mesopotamian Front - (July 2022) Paper Title: Rivalry Halted: Enemies Turned Allies? - The Impact of Bahram Chobin's Revolt on Roman-Sasanian Relations 

  • Cardiff University - C.L.A.M.E.R (Cardiff Late Antique and Medieval Early Researcher) Seminar Series (April 2022) - Paper Title: Emperor Maurice: The Proto-Return of the Soldier-Emperor? Interconnected Identities and Shifting Ideals of Military Leadership in Late Antiquity

  • University of Oxford - The 24th Oxford University Byzantine Society International Graduate Conference (Theme - Reshaping the World: Utopias, Ideals, and Aspirations in Late Antiquity and Byzantium) - (February 2022) - Paper Title: Communicating the Changing Ideals of Imperial Leadership: Theophylact Simocatta on the Military Identity of Emperor Maurice, AD 578-602

  • Cardiff University (UWICAH) - Communication and Interaction in the Ancient World and its Study (November 2021) - Paper Title: Communicating and Transferring Legitimacy in the Roman Court: The Use of Emotion in Literary Context of Emperor Maurice's Inauguration 

  • University of Leeds – International Medieval Congress: Panel Title – Between Byzantium and Sasanian Persia: The Climate of Leadership between Ērānshahr and the Eastern Roman Empire - (July 2021) - Paper Title: Vindicated, Dismissed, or Crushed: Roman-Sasanian Generalship and Punishment in the Late Sixth Century AD

  • University of Birmingham - The 21st Annual Postgraduate Colloquium of the Centre of Byzantine, Ottoman, and Modern Greek Studies (Theme: Colour, Emotion, and Senses) - (May 2021) - Paper Title: Emotion as Evidence for Legitimacy? The Public Reception of Emperor Maurice 

  • UWTSD Lampeter – Classics Research Seminar (April 2021) - Paper Title: Theophylact Simocatta and Leadership at Times of Transition: Approaches and Evidence from the Late Roman and Sasanian Empire, AD 565-602 [Invited] 

  • University of Exeter - Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient History (March 2021) - Paper Title: Becoming Šāhanšāh in Ērānshahr: Visual and Literary Evidence for Sasanian Investiture Rituals in the Late Sixth Century AD

  • University of Wales, Lampeter (UWICAH) - Themes of Isolation in, and in the Study of, the Ancient World (November 2020) - Paper Title: Being a Byzantinist: An Academic Discipline on the Periphery

  • (Cancelled: Covid-19) Cardiff University – Breaking Boundaries: An Interdisciplinary Conference for the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (May 2020) - Paper Title: Byzantium and Sasanian Persia: A Comparative Study of Eastern Kingship

  • (Cancelled: Covid-19) University of Exeter – Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient History (March 2020) - Paper Title: Panegyric and the Perception of Rulership in Early Byzantium

  • University of Bristol - Follow the Leader: Medieval Leaders and Leadership (January 2020) - Paper Title: Rulership in Early Byzantium: The Case of Inauguration Speeches 

  • Sapienza: Università di Roma - Apprendistato dello Storico -  Dialettiche del Potere: rivendicazione, usurpazione, giustificazione (May 2019) - Paper Title: Nikephoros III Botaneiates and Nikephoros Bryennios: The Means and Ends to Usurp an Imperial Throne and the Precedent it set for Alexios I Komnenos in 1081 AD

  • St Anne’s College, Oxford – ‘Lampeter Legacies’, (November 2018) – Event in Honour of Professor Janet Burton - Paper Title: ό διπλωματία των Βυζαντινών: Religious Missionaries and their Role along the Northern Frontier, 8th Century – 12th Century AD [Invited]

  • Lancaster University - HistFest (June 2018) - Paper Title: Realism in Late Roman Warfare: A Military Arms Race between Rome and Sassanid Persia (The Concept of Development Over Time between the 4th and 6th Century AD)

  • UWTSD Lampeter - Undergraduate Humanities Conference (May 2017) - Paper Title: The Role of Emperor Justinian in the Decline of the Byzantine Empire


Publications:



  • Strong, S, 'Death, Confusion, and Darkness: Late Antique Military Operations at Twilight', in J. Oorthuys (ed.), Ancient Warfare Magazine (2021), pp. 44-49.  

  • Strong, S, ‘Reconstructing the Narrative: The Usurpation of Nikephoros Bryennios the Elder’, SHARE: Studies in History, Archaeology, Religion and Conservation 4.1 (2020), 1-27.

  • Strong, S, 'The Sword that Became Blunt: The Usurpation of Nikephoros Bryennios', in P. Konieczy (ed.), Medieval Warfare Magazine, 10, 2 (2020), 34-7.


In Preparation: 



  • (Article, Edited Volume) 'Philippicus and the Strategikon: Leading, Fighting, and Martial Identity according to New Military Protocal?' in M. E. Stewart and E. T. Daily (eds.), Images of Generalship and Authority in the Age of Justinian: A Study of Twelve Generals [Proposal with Amsterdam University Press]

  • (Article, Edited Volume) 'Becoming Šāhanšāh in Ērānshahr: Visual and Literary Evidence for Sasanian Investiture Rituals in the Late Sixth Century AD' in S. Tougher, D. Rossi, and S. Strong (eds.), Constantinople to Ctesiphon: The Climate between the Roman and Sasanian Empire in Late Antiquity

  • (Co-Editor, Edited Volume) Constantinople to Ctesiphon: The Climate between the Roman and Sasanian Empire in Late Antiquity, co-editing with Shaun Tougher and Domiziana Rossi (Cardiff University) - [Proposal with Brepols] 

  • (Article, Edited Volume) 'Being a Byzantinist: An Academic Discipline on the Periphery’ UWICAH 2020 Proceedings (5,000-6,000 words)


Book Reviews:



Funding/Awards:



  • BIPS (British Institute of Persian Studies) Research Grant (£935) – Venice/Padua Congress

  • BIPS (British Institute of Persian Studies) Research Grant (£1275) – IMC 2021.

  • The Keith Hopwood Prize (2017) – Student Representative Excellence.


Academic Public Engagement:



Academic Administrative Positions (Committee and Editing):



  • May 2020 - January 2022; June 2022 - Present: Committee Member of the South-West and Wales Late Antique, Early Medieval, and Byzantine Network (SWW-LAEMB) Twitter: SWW-LAEMB Network - Twitter

  • November 2021 – Present: C.L.A.M.E.R Seminar Series Co-organiser [Colleagues – Ben Morris and Teifion Gambold] - (Cardiff Late Antique and Medieval Early Researcher) Twitter: CLAMER Seminar Series - Twitter

  • March 2021 - Present: 'Graduate Associate' of the Executive Committee of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies (SPBS)



  • September 2021 - November 2021: Organising Committee for UWICAH 2021, hosted by Cardiff University. Theme: Communication and Interaction in the Ancient World and its Study.

  • November 2017 - February 2018: Organising Committee for the Oxford University Byzantine Society’s 20th International Graduate Conference 



  • Forthcoming: Subject Editor (Ancient and Medieval History) for SHARE e-Journal (SHARE: Studies in History, Archaeology, Religion and Conservation)

  • Select Editor for Diogenes. 11 (May 2021) – Online Student-led Academic Journal for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies (Birmingham University)


Conference/Events Organisation



  • [Forthcoming] Organiser of Workshop on Roman-Sasanian Relations (Late 2023)

  • Co-organiser (w/Domiziana Rossi) of IMC 2022 Strand: “Empires without Borders: Collaboration and Rivalry between the Roman and Sasanian Empire in Late Antiquity” – Four Panels:

    • Empires without Borders - Collaboration and Rivalry between the Roman and Sasanian Empires, I: Politics and Warfare along the Mesopotamian Frontier

    • Empires without Borders - Collaboration and Rivalry between the Roman and Sasanian Empires, II: Exploring Political-Cultural Interaction through Identity and Exchange

    • Empires without Borders - Collaboration and Rivalry between the Roman and Sasanian Empires, III: Movement and Economic Interconnectivity along the Frontier

    • Empires without Borders - Collaboration and Rivalry between the Roman and Sasanian Empires, IV: Political Interactions in, and around, Armenia and the Caucasus Region



  • Committee Organiser (SWW-LAEMB Network) of IMC 2022 Strand: “Borders in Late Antique, Islamic, Early Medieval, and Byzantine Worlds, 300-1200 CE” – Six Panels:

    • Internal Borders in the Late Antique, Early Medieval, and Byzantine World, I: Imperial Power and Politics in Late Antiquity

    • Internal Borders in the Late Antique, Early Medieval, and Byzantine World, II: Borders in Western Court Politics – Examined through Presence, Power, and Intellectualism

    • Internal Borders in the Late Antique, Early Medieval, and Byzantine World, III: Crossing Borders of Religion, Body, and Legality

    • Interactions across Borders in the Late Antique, Early Medieval, and Byzantine World, I: Byzantine/Christian Interactions with the Muslim World

    • Interactions across Borders in the Late Antique, Early Medieval, and Byzantine World, II: Crossing and Defending Sea Borders

    • Interactions across Borders in the Late Antique, Early Medieval, and Byzantine World, III: Migration and the Spatial Context of Urban Borders in Late Antiquity



  • Committee Organiser for UWICAH (Universities of Wales Institute of Classics and Ancient History) 2021 – Theme: Communication and Interaction in the Ancient World and its Study, 19th – 20th November 2021. Keynote Speaker: Dr Tiffany Treadway, Cardiff University.

  • Co-organiser (w/Domiziana Rossi) of IMC 2021 Strand: “Byzantium and Sasanian Persia: The Climate of the Near East in Late Antiquity” – Four Panels [Funded via BIPS]:

    • Between Byzantium and Sasanian Persia, I: Settlement and Movement within the Limits of Ērānshahr and the Eastern Roman Empire

    • Between Byzantium and Sasanian Persia, II: The Climate of Leadership between Ērānshahr and the Eastern Roman Empire

    • Between Byzantium and Sasanian Persia, III: Reconstructing the Other - The Climate of Persia and its Neighbours

    • Between Byzantium and Sasanian Persia, IV: The Climate of Religious Warfare between Ērānshahr and the Eastern Roman Empire



  • Lead Committee Organiser for the SWW-LAEMB Network Summer Colloquium – CfP: ‘Connectivity and Networks’, Thursday 3rd June 2021. Keynote Speaker: Dr Byron Waldron, University of Sydney

  • Lead Committee Organiser for the SWW-LAEMB Network Autumn Event: “The Transmission of Knowledge in Late Antique Iran” Friday 27th November 2020. Speakers: Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones and Dr Eve MacDonald


Professional Memberships:



  • Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies (SPBS) - (2017-Present)

  • The British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS) - (2018-Present)

Teaching

Graduate Tutor (2021/22): 



  • HS1112: Medieval Worlds, 500-1500 

  • HS3106: Introduction to Ancient History 2 - Empires East and West, 323 BC to 680 AD 

Thesis

Generals and Rulers in Theophylact Simocatta's History: Ideals and Practices of Roman and Sasanian Leadership in a Time of Transition, AD 565-602

The thesis is a comparative study of Roman and Sasanian leadership as depicted by Theophylact Simocatta in his History. Theophylact’s History is best known for its narration of Emperor Maurice’s wars (AD 582-602); however, the text has a greater relevance to historians and a wider examination needs to be undertaken within the context of imperial/royal and military leadership. This study is an examination into what Theophylact deems important to depict concerning leadership, how Theophylact exercises this interest within his History, and why does he portray events associated with leadership in the ways that he did. Key aspects of Late Antique leadership will be addressed such as legitimacy and dynasty, alongside offering an analysis into the transforming military role of the Late Roman autokrator and Sasanian Šāhanšāh

Supervisors

Shaun Tougher

Professor Shaun Tougher

Professor of Late Roman and Byzantine History

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Dr Eve MacDonald

Lecturer in Ancient History