My current project titled 'Medieval Knowledge Exchange: Strategies for Acquiring, Recording, and Disseminating Information about Fish between 1100 and 1400' investigates the circulation of knowledge about fish in the Middle Ages - the formative period of the modern science. By looking at various sources, such as bestiaries, fables, lives of saints, epic and romantic literature, and works of art, including manuscript illuminations, mosaics, and world maps, this project offers an expansive and interdisciplinary study of the interactions between various medieval forms of knowledge about aquatic organisms. It also investigates the norms of knowledge about water-borne animals, namely the ways in which information about fish circulated in the medieval society, which representations of fish became dominant, which were marginalised, and why.
Although the cultures of different groups in the medieval society have been studied, the ways these groups interacted with each other and exchanged information remains to a large extent neglected. While it has been traditionally assumed that everything gross and ‘inappropriate’ was inevitably a product of the unlearned minds or a remnant of pagan beliefs, my research on the role of walking-dead stories in medieval narratives has established that in the Middle Ages the legacy of classical sources remained extremely important and vibrant, and a number of ideas which had previously been labelled as pagan Germanic were, in fact, borrowed from classical texts. These findings have also demonstrated that, in contrast to previous assumptions that irrational beliefs were spread within a society from the unlearned elements to the rest of the society, in fact, the flow of ideas often seems to have gone in the opposite direction, with some superstitions reflecting the downward dissemination of knowledge from the learned circles to ordinary people.
History of Islam
Following my previous appointment as a lecturer in medieval Islamic history, I have developed interest in this topic and have published popular scientific articles about various aspects of Islamic art and architecture. I am particularly interested in tracing change and continuity over the centuries and analysing the ways in which Islamic art reflects various important aspects of our lives, from relationships between confessions to LGBTQI+ rights.