My research focuses on the interaction between Byzantium and the West throughout the late antique and medieval periods. I am currently writing my dissertation, "At the Edges of Empires: Cooperation and Conflict in the Church in Byzantine Southern Italy, 868-1070," under the guidance of Professor Warren Treadgold. This work examines the relationship between ecclesiastical affiliation and political allegiance during the period of Byzantine control of Southern Italy. Specifically, it investigates the relationship between the Latin and Greek churches along the developing faultline between them, and the effect of this relationship on political loyalty to Constantinople. I make use of a wide variety of sources, including narrative histories, saints' lives, charters, letters, and other written and material sources.
My wider scholarly interests are often drawn to the intersections of peoples, places, time periods, cultures, and beliefs. They include Roman, Byzantine, and Western medieval history, particularly in the Mediterranean region. Specific topics that fascinate me are ancient Greek and Roman influences throughout the Middle Ages, political and religious communication and dissent, the relationship between power and cultural expression, and the interactions between the Christian and Islamic worlds.
My first article, accepted for publication at the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, uses the letters of Pope Gregory I (590-604) to create a picture of the papal apocrisiarii - the Roman church's diplomatic representatives at the imperial court in Constantinople.
In addition to writing my dissertation, presenting my research, and teaching, I hope to spend some of my free time traveling, camping, fly fishing, supporting my undergraduate alma mater: the University of Michigan, and volunteering with high school students.
Joseph Western: "Byzantine Southern Italy and the Unity of the Adriatic," in Samuel's state and byzantium : history, legend, tradition, heritage : proceedings of the International symposium "Days of Justinian I", ed. Mitko Panov, 35-46, Skopje: Euro-Balkan University, 2015.
Joseph Western: "The Papal Apocrisiarii in Constantinople during the Pontificate of Gregory I, 590-604," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 66, no. 4 (2015): 697-714.