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Annual Research Symposium

2023 Research Symposium
Conflict & Resolution: Insights from the Humanities and the Social Sciences 

Program Details

A Word from the Organizers

Centered around the theme of conflict and resolution, this year’s presentations explore subjects drawn from History, Art History, Philosophy, English, Cultural Anthropology, and Religious Studies. The participants will share their work and together as a community we will draw connections and insights across cultures and societies, spanning from late-antique Rome and medieval Baghdad into early-modern England and colonial North America.

Today, conflict appears to be the pivotal point of concern in public policy and international affairs. In the Symposium, we have chosen to explore this topic but also how it can be resolved because we believe that the past contains both explanation and insight to contemporary problems. Reaching deeper than political divisions and wars, our presenters have studied undercurrent disputes and tensions surrounding competing ideologies and entire conceptualizations of being. We affirm that understanding the past is a necessary step towards resolving divisions of today. Moreover, we firmly believe that the pursuit of knowledge invites dialogue and collaboration across communities and cultures.

The Symposium reflects our general academic philosophy rooted in the intersection of the past and the present. We have applied this core principle in our peer-reviewed journal, Noetica. The journal is a forum for undergraduate research that includes scholarly articles, commentaries, and creative works. For anyone interested in contributing or getting involved with the journal, we have shared Noetica’s front page with you as well as the contact information of our founders and editorial board.

Thank you for your participation, and welcome to our community!


Dr. Alexander Angelov and Blake McCullough     


This year's symposium was a great success. In our first session, Politics, Economics, and the State, Blake McCullough taught us about the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem's colonial society and government, John Dale took us back to colonial North America's Anglican religion impact and its failings, and Henry Stratakis-Allen gave us fascinating insights into the world of the medieval people of Baghdad.

Henry Stratakis-Allen explains legal and philosophical developments in medieval Seljuq society and how they did not always impact the majority of the common people.Our second session, Philosophy, Ritual, and Representation, took us into the world of the Near East. Stephen Vasiljevic began us with an insightful and intelligent examination of fasting in Orthodoxy with applications to our modern relationship with food. George French explained the need for a new outlook on classical figures and their relationship to developments in religion and philosophy. Donovan Watters took us into the realm of the Orthodox Church and its deeply meaningful use of icons as religious and cultural tools.

George French explains martyrdom and its appeal to the Early Christians. The third session, entitled Fashion, Culture, and Self-Expression, took us to the Renaissance period. Heidi Zmick expounded upon dance as recorded in a monastic charter and its functions in the secular and religious realms. Sarah Richman gave a fascinating presentation on her experience and understanding of hair taping, and even gave us a demonstration!

Sarah Richman shows us the tape courtly women of the Renaissance might use to style their hair as she begins her demonstration.Our final session, Polemics, Discord, and Unity, discovered medieval commonalities across cultures and informed us about religious upheavals in the Reformation. Bradley Friedman presented interesting parallels and meaningful differences between two very different peoples and places, England and the Ottoman State, while Harry Zhang ended us off on a note of religious divisions turning into religious unity.

Bradley Friedman and Harry Zhang incisively answer audience questions as Dr. Thomas McSweeney presides over the session.Dr. Angelov and myself once again wish to thank our presenters for all of their hard work and exceptional scholarship, and to show our appreciation for all the faculty, friends, and family members who attended this year's Conflict and Resolution Research Symposium.

Presenters, friends, and supporters of this year's Research Symposium pose together after a long two days of fantastic presentations. From left to right, Sarah Richman, Stephen Vasiljevic, John Dale, Heidi Zmick, Harry Zhang, Peter Fox, Blake McCullough, Terence Flannery, Dr. Alexander Angelov, and Grace Subu.

With deepest sincerity,

Blake McCullough

Organized by Dr. Alexander Angelov and Blake McCullough, the Conflict and Resolution Research Symposium (Spring, 2023) is supported by the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program and the Charles Center at William & Mary.

Special thanks to Grace Subu (Art, Media, & Communications) and Megan Cridlin (Office Manager).