Brad’s research focuses on luxury objects, patronage, and the interaction of text and image in the Byzantine Empire. In his doctoral thesis, “The Function of Text: Byzantine Reliquaries with Epigrams, 843–1204” (Florida State Univ., 2016), he focused on those precious containers that housed sacred relics–bits of bone, blood, hair, cloth, and earth associated with Christian holy figures. His research was based on a corpus of 74 Middle Byzantine reliquaries that are/were inscribed with epigrams, or metrical inscriptions. He demonstrated that these relatively overlooked texts provide a wealth of information concerning relic veneration practices in Byzantium and the viewer responses to reliquaries.
His current book project, Enshrining Sacred Matter: The Form, Function, and Meaning of Reliquaries in Medieval Byzantium, builds and expands upon this research to include a larger corpus of objects and texts in order to investigate more broadly the relationships between materiality–both sacred and manufactured–and religious practices. This book will be the first synthetic study of reliquaries that date to the Middle Byzantine period, an era of rich artistic production that is bookended by the end of Iconoclasm and the beginning of the Fourth Crusade. Pulling together visual, textual, and epigraphic evidence, this book charts out a paradigm for understanding the ways in which reliquaries were used, and their relics accessed, in the private, public, religious, and secular contexts of Middle Byzantine society. A fundamental issue that underlies this investigation is that relics were made visually and haptically accessible to the faithful. Brad argues that this need to see, touch, and kiss relics for veneration was the primary factor that determined the particular design, form, and function of reliquaries in the Middle Byzantine period.
Enshrining Sacred Matter: The Form, Function, and Meaning of Reliquaries in Medieval Byzantium. (in progress)
“Image, Epigram, and Nature in Middle Byzantine Personal Devotion.” In Natural Materials of the Holy Land and the Visual Translation of Place, 500 – 1500. Renana Bartal, Neta Bodner, and Bianca Kühnel, eds. Taylor & Francis. (contracted, 2017)
Publications in Progress
“Reliquary Epigrams.” In Byzantine Texts on Art and Aesthetics, vol. 3: From Alexios I to the Rise of Hesychasm (1081 – ca. 1330). Charles Barber and Foteini Spingou, eds. Cambridge University Press. (accepted)
“Daniel the Exile’s Ekphrasis of a Hippodrome Scene: Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kiev?” (co-authored with Matthew Herrington, Robert Romanchuk, Sarah Simmons, and Christopher Timm). In Byzantine Texts on Art and Aesthetics, vol. 3: From Alexios I to the Rise of Hesychasm (1081 – ca. 1330). Charles Barber and Foteini Spingou, eds. Cambridge University Press. (accepted)
“Towards a Typology for the Placement of Names on Works of Art.” In Inscribing Texts in Byzantium: Continuity, Invention, Transformation. Proceedings of the 49th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies. Ida Toth and Marc Lauxtermann, eds. Taylor & Francis.