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Internet Discussions of 
Byzantine Topics

There are a number of Internet discussion forums, or maillists [see below] where Byzantine studies are discussed. Some of these discussions are rather lightweight, but others deal with issues in some depth. To experience them can be like being in a good roundtable seminar. In some cases these discussions have been collected together and lightly edited for continuity. This page will provide links to such reports.

Compendia of Discussions

Mail lists and Byzantinists

For those who are unfamiliar with a mail list, gathered here are

  Byzantine Related Mail lists

The basis of this list is the general guide to medieval studies lists made by Prof. Edwin Duncan, modified and updated for Byzantinists. I have left out "BITNET" addresses because this network is rapidly disappearing as the Internet replaces it.

The list here is organized in order of interest to Byzantinists!

Note 1: The address of the mail list is the same listserver address, but with the name of the list, not the word listserv [or variants]. For the first item on the list, Byzans-l, the address is, accordingly,

Note 2: some of the lists are managed not by the LISTSERV program, but by an alternate called LISTPROC. This now includes BYZANS-L, the most important Byzantine studies list. The various subscribe commands for LISTSERV given below will work for LISTPROC, but make sure to keep the instructions send when you first subscribe to a LISTPROC managed list.


BYZANS-L     Byzantine Studies

        *The* list most dedicated to Byzantine studies.

ROMIOSINI Byzantine Studies 

         ROMIOSINI Mailing List concerning discussions 
    about various aspects of the Eastern Empire, Byzantium, 
    as history, politics, military strategy, arts, and sciences. 
    To subscribe you need to send a mail (without any subject) to:
    including only the following line in the main body of 
    the message:

    subscribe romiosini First_Name Last_Name

                                        Late Antiquity 

        Dedicated to the explosively popular study of the late 
        antique period [roughly 200-700 CE].

MEDIEV-L            Medieval History

        An active and civilized list, with over 1000 members. It does
        discuss Byzantine topics on occasion.
BMMR-L      Medieval Book Reviews

BMCR-L      Classics Book Reviews

BMR-L      Medieval & Classical Book Reviews

        BMMR-L, BMCR-L the Bryn Mawr Medieval Review and the Bryn Mawr 
        Classics Review, post scholarly reviewa of books on classical and
        medieval topics. Members are not only automatically sent reviews of 
        new books as they become available but may also retrieve older 
        reviews from the archives. Reviewed authors are allowed to reply,
        but these are not discussion lists as such. If you subscribe to
        BMR-L, you get both medieval and classical reviews - probably the
        best for Byzantinists. 

MEDIEVALE              Medieval History (in French)

        MEDIEVALE is a new medieval history network from Canada
        whose postings are all in French.

LATIN-L        Latin Language & Studies

CLASSICS     General Classics list

        CLASSICS is an unmoderated list for discussing ancient Greek and
    Latin subjects. This list is open to everyone interested in Classics,
        and prospective members are warmly welcomed. The discussions 
        assume a background in ancient Greek and/or Latin and postings 
        are expected to remain within the confines of these subjects. Only      list-members are permitted to post or reply to CLASSICS messages. 

ELENCHUS  listserv@uottawa.bitnet       Christianity in Late Antiquity 
DEREMI-L Medieval Military History
EARLYM-L  listserv@aearn.bitnet         Early Music 

MDVLPHIL              Medieval Philosophy

        MDVLPHIL, devoted to medieval philosophy, does not have many

MEDART-L  Medieval Art 

MEDFEM-L     Medieval Feminist Studies

        MEDFEM-L is a fairly high-volume discussion group which
        covers a wide range of issues related to medieval feminist
MEDGAY-L        Medieval Gay Studies 

        MEDGAY-L is variously active, and often covers debates between
        those who think there have always been gay people and those
        who believe in a "social constructionist" model.

MEDIBER      Medieval Iberian Studies

        MEDIBER is a discussion group devoted to medieval
        Iberian literatures, languages, histories, and cultures.  It is 
        fairly active.  Many of its postings are in Spanish.

FICINO     Renaissance Studies

RENAIS-L Renaissance History

Please send additional suggestion to me at

A Word about Academic Networks - by Edwin Duncan

[note: The location of the original of this document is at Prof. Duncan's homepage]

In the past couple of years medievalists have been joining academic discussion groups (also known as academic networks or lists), devoted to any number of specialized fields of study. The number of these networks is constantly increasing; their rapid growth is due in part to the increasing number of people who are on-line, but also because they offer some distinct advantages for the scholars who use them. Being a member of one of these academic networks--which, by the way, cost nothing to join--means several things.

First, it means that you will receive on a daily basis (or almost daily, depending on the popularity of the network) all of the messages sent to that network by other members. The messages vary in length from less than a line to several screens full, but most are generally a paragraph or two, and the topic will have something to do with the subject matter covered by that network. On Chaucernet, for example, one member may ask a question or make a comment pertaining to the Prioress's Tale and attitudes toward Jews in fourteenth-century England. Then, in the following days this member's query may evoke one or more responses by other members; and messages on this topic will run concurrently with other questions and comments on different Chaucer topics: how much memorization to include in a Chaucer course, questions about Chaucer's travels in Italy, and so on. Sometimes the discussion may be something you are interested in, sometimes not. When it isn't, you just delete the message and go on to the next one.

In a way, reading the network mail is something like reading the Letters to the Editor section of your local newspaper. The main difference is that instead of the newspaper discussions of political and civic matters sent in by local citizens, the networks focus on the issues and interests of your scholarly discipline with postings from academics from all over the world. The quality of responses varies of course, but most contributors to the networks take pains to be accurate and logical. These networks also post job openings, calls for papers, and other announcements dealing with their field. Many also maintain an archive with files and software available to members upon request. If, for example, you join Ansaxnet, the Anglo-Saxon network, you may obtain such varied offerings as OE vocabulary drills, Latin drills, a runes font for Macintosh, and calculation software for the Julian calendar. Since these files are normally donations from members who want to share what they have, the selection is going to be eclectic and only occasionally helpful, but when you do find something you need, it can be a real help.

But perhaps the greatest reason for the growing popularity of these networks is that with them you have at your fingertips one of the greatest resources imaginable--a group of academic specialists in almost every field you could ever be interested in--and all of them willing to share their expertise to help you solve whatever problem you might have. Let me give you an example. Not too long ago, a person working on an early exegetical text hit a snag because he wasn't sure if his translation of a medieval Latin passage was correct. So he presented his problem to the subscribers of Medtextl, the Medieval Language and Literature network. In the next two days he received several responses, a couple of which discussed the Latin translation he was having trouble with, a couple more from Greek scholars, who discussed the same passage as it appeared in the original Greek, and another which provided bibliographical references to some little known discussions of the same passage. Even if you were on the faculty at Oxford, you probably would not have been able to obtain such a complete and learned response in such a short time. And, when you subscribe to one of these academic networks, you are under no obligation to remain a member. So if you have a question you need answered in any field, you could theoretically join the appropriate network one day, pose your question the next, read the responses that come in for as many days as you think necessary, and then unsubscribe from the network, taking with you all the information you've received. But even if you never go to such lengths but just subscribe to a network in your own field, the access it provides can be especially helpful, particularly if you work at a smaller school where you are likely to be the only specialist in your area.

Property of Edwin Duncan. All rights reserved. This document may be distributed as long as it is done entirely with all attributions to the author. Commercial distribution is prohibited. Portions of this document copyrighted by the Medieval English Newsletter.

How to Subscribe to an Academic Mail list - by Paul Halsall

[note: This is updated and adpated from an original document by Prof. Edwin Duncan. Since he wrote the original, the BITNET network to which he referred has faded from the scene, and a number of addresses have changed.]

If you have a computer account at your university or with a commercial Internet access provided, you can become a member of an academic maillist, or discussion group, free of charge simply by "subscribing". The word "subscribe" here does not imply any charge will be made to you.

How to Subscribe and Send Mail

To subscribe, do the following:


  1. Log in to your account and go to your MAIL program.
  2. Address a message to LISTSERV@[address of maillist you want to join] or LISTPROC@[address of maillist you want to join]..
  3. For instance to joing the byzans-l list, you send a message to
  4. In the body of the message type:

    sub listname your name

     for instance

    sub byzans-l Paul Halsall

    Put nothing on the "subject line" of your mail. Some services [AOL for instance] will not send mail without a "subject". In this case, just type a few space, or random letters. Although the when you send a one-line command, the subject line should be left blank, the command will probably be be accepted even if there is a subject.

  5. If you have done everything correctly, within a few minutes, you will receive a reply from the listserver informing you that your request has been accepted and that you are now a member of the network. This initial reply will usually also include instructions on how to access files and other information that the network makes available to its members. It will also explain how to unsubscribe and how to postpone or resume receiving mail sent to the network by other subscribers. With most networks, you will also receive introductory information about the network, including its scope, its aims, and its protocol. You will also immediately begin to receive messages sent to the network by other members.
  6. You can get a list of other members by sending the command review [name of list] to the Listserv/Listproc address.

  7. For instance, sending

    review byzans-l


    will get you a list of all members. You may be surprised who is connected.  

  8. You can now send mail to the mail list. To do this you usually have two options:

In Sum: Send Program commands to the "listserv" address. Send messages to the address of the list.

REPEAT: This is important: The biggest mistake newcomers make is to send subscribe and other "program" command to the entire list. You must send such commands to the address which begins "Listserv".

Volume of Mail

Many of the networks are quite active. The daily volume of mail on all of them drops off during the summer and on holidays, but during the fall and spring semesters, some may handle as many as twenty to thirty messages a day, which, if you read them all word for word, may take over a half-hour to finish. This is fine if you have the time for it, but we all go through periods when we cannot afford to waste a minute, and in these times the best thing to do is to send a one-line command to the appropriate listserver to stop the messages from coming until further notice.

The wording of the command varies from one network to another, but all can be stated on a single line, and the exact wording is usually provided in the introductory information you get when you join the network. Then, when the deadline has passed, or when you have returned from your trip out of town, you can just as easily resume receiving the network mail with a resume mail command.

The author and maintainer of this site is Paul Halsall [a picture!] . He can be contacted by email at Please do not hesitate to mail comments or suggestions.