Spotlight on Dimitris Kastritsis
March 8, 2013 Leave a comment
Dr Dimitris Kastritsis joined the School of History in 2007, first as RCUK Academic Fellow in Ottoman History and then as Lecturer. He obtained his PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University in 2005, after nine years — about average, considering the number of languages required to study Ottoman history!
Before coming to St Andrews, Dimitris taught at Georgetown University’s semester abroad programme in Turkey and at the Hellenic Studies Program at Yale. His doctoral thesis was published in 2007 in Brill’s Ottoman series, under the title The Sons of Bayezid. In 2009 it also appeared in Turkish. It is a study of the Ottoman dynastic wars of 1402–13 and how they were represented in two epic propaganda pieces produced around that time. One is among the oldest chronicles in Ottoman history, and survives in an anonymous compilation from the late fifteenth century, the so-called Oxford Anonymous Chronicle. Dimitris has already published a translation of the text in question, and is currently working on an annotated translation of the entire compilation for publication in the new series Translated Texts for Byzantinists (Liverpool University Press). This will be the first time an early Ottoman chronicle has been translated to English in its entirety.
Apart from the Liverpool volume, which is due in summer 2013, Dimitris has been working on a number of articles on various aspects of Ottoman history, most of which are now published. He has also begun work on his next big project, a study of the Ottomans in the century before they conquered Constantinople. This is an unusual field—most Ottomanists only study the period after 1453, although there are a few who ponder the obscure origins of the Ottomans in the early fourteenth century. Dimitris believes that what is needed is a broader perspective on the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, based on all available sources, including material remains and texts in a number of genres and languages. To this end, he has obtained an advance contract with Harvard University Press for a study tentatively titled Emirate to Empire. This will take up the bulk of his time over the next five years. He will begin work on this project at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC, where he has just won a fellowship for the 2013–14 academic year. His project there is entitled Byzantines, Ottomans, and Others in the Last Century of Byzantium (1354-1453).
In the meantime, Dimitris finds that his teaching at St Andrews is moving him in the right direction. In addition to a popular honours option on the Ottoman Empire, now in its fourth year (MO3081 The Classical Ottoman Empire), he is module coordinator for a new Middle Eastern subhonours module (MH2002 Introduction to Middle Eastern History). In 2014–15, he plans to offer an honours option on the transformation of Constantinople after the Ottoman conquest (formerly taught as a special subject) as well as a new Special Subject on the transition of the eastern Roman region from Byzantine to Ottoman rule. As this is actually the subject of his next book, he feels very fortunate to hold a position at a university where he can actually teach such a course to interested students with an appropriate background.