Valentina B. Izmirlieva

Valentina B. Izmirlieva


Ph.D. — University of Chicago, 1999
M.A.  — Ohio State University, 1991
B.A.   — Sofia University, 1987

Interests & Research

Valentina Izmirlieva is a scholar of Balkan and Russian religious cultures with a strong background in critical theory and intellectual history. Much of her research addresses cultural exchanges among Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the context of multi-ethnic, multi-religious empires and their successor states. She explores religious coexistence beyond the dominant paradigms of “conflict studies” and “the clash of civilizations.” Professor Izmirlieva’s first book, All the Names of The Lord: Lists, Mysticism and Magic (University of Chicago, 2008), examines traces of the Kabbalah in Christian texts across medieval and early modern Europe. Her current book project focuses on Christian-Muslim cultural exchange in the Ottoman Empire during the 19th Century. She founded and leads Black Sea Networks, a global initiative to investigate the Black Sea as a hub of cultural, political, and historical interest.


The Muslim and the Christian in Balkan Narratives; Religion in Russia: Culture, History, Institutions; Old Russian Literature I: The Making of Old Rus’; Old Russian Literature II: On the Verge of Modernity; Orthodoxy, Text, Ritual; Magical Mystery Tour: The Legacy of Old Rus’; Proseminar in Literary Theory and Method; The Lolita Phenomenon; Acmeism; Russian Symbolist Poetry; Literature and Ideology: Balkan Modernism and Postmodernism.

Awards & Honors

·         Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award, 2017-2018  
·         Principal Investigator, Columbia University’s Presidential Global Innovation Fund for the Project “Black Sea Networks,” 2016-2018 
·         Distinguished Article Prize of the Association for the Study of Eastern Christian History and Culture, 2015    
·         Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library, 2012-2013
·         National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, Summer Mediterranean Institute, Barcelona, Spain, 2012
·         National Council for East European and Eurasian Research — Title VIII National Research Competition Grant, 2009-2011
·         George and Eliza Howard Foundation Fellowship in History, the Howard Foundation, 2009-2010 
·         Junior Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Study of Religion, The University of Chicago,  1998-1999
·         Whiting Dissertation Fellowship, 1991-1997.
·         Century Fellowship, The University of Chicago, 1991-1995    
·         Fulbright Scholarship, 1990-1995

Selected Publications


•      All the Names of the Lord: Lists, Mysticism, and Magic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
•      (co-ed. with Boris Gasparov) Translation and Tradition in Slavia Orthodoxa. Series Slavische Sprachgeschichte 5. Vienna, Austria: Lit Verlag, 2012. 


•    “Hosting the Divine Logos: Radical Hospitality and Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment,” in Routledge Companion to Literature and Religion, ed. Mark Knight (London: Routledge, 2016), 277-88. 
•    “Christian Hajjis—The Other Orthodox Pilgrims to Jerusalem,” 73 Slavic Review 2 (2014): 322-46; Winner of the Distinguished Article Prize of the Association for the Study of Eastern Christian History and Culture  for 2014
•    “The Title Hajji and the Ottoman Vocabulary of Pilgrimage,” 28/29 Modern Greek Studies Yearbook, 2012-2013137-67.
•    “The 72 Names of The Lord: Translation, Transliteration and Religious Hybridization.” In Translation and Tradition in Slavia Orthodoxa, Valentina Izmirlieva and Boris Gasparov, eds. Vienna, Austria: 2012, 46-65 (in Russian).
•    “Typography and Magic on the Threshold of Modern Europe: Printed Amulets between the Apennines and the Balkans,” Starobulgarska literatura, 41/42 (2009): 453-65 (in Bulgarian).
•    “Orthodox Widows: The Burden and Power of Charisma.” In Women and the Orthodox Church: Past Roles, Future Paradigms. Ed. Justin Marc Lasser. The Sophia Institute. Studies of Orthodox Theology, vol. 1, New York: Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, 2009, 65-81.
•    “The Peculiar Codex Jerusalem 22: Tracing the Slavic Kabbalah.” In Jews and Slavs. Vol. 20. The Holy Land and the Manuscript Legacy of the Slavs. Jerusalem and Sofia: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and The Cyrillo-Methodian Research Center, 2008, 87-108.
•    “Nabokov and Casanova, or Lolita and Zaïre.” In Poetics. Self. Place: Essays in Honor of Lisa Crone. Eds. Nicole Boudreau, Sarah Krive, and Catherine O'Neil. Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2007, 630-647.
•    “From Babel to Christ and Beyond: The Number 72 in Christian Political Symbolism.” Starobulgarska literatura, 35/36 (2006): 3-21. 
•    “Augustine Divided: A Response to David Tracy.”  In Erotikon: Essays on Eros, Ancient and Modern. Eds. Shadi Bartsch and Thomas Bartscherer. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005, 107-112. 
•    “The Aetiology of the Seventy-Two Diseases: Investigating a Byzantino-Slavic False Prayer." Byzantinoslavica,59/1 (1998): 181-195.
•    “Auf den Spuren einer hypothetischen hagiographischen Gattung im Werk des Evtimij von Turnovo.” In Gattungen und Genologie der slavisch-orthodoxen Literaturen des Mittelalters. Ed. Klaus - Dieter Seemann. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1992, 43-62. 
•    (with Petko Ivanov) “The Saint of Sushitsa. Parts 1-3. Folk Vita— Folk Legends— Sainthood in Folk Context.” Bulgarski folklor, 16/3 (1990): 75-94; 17/1 (1991): 61-78; 17/2 (1991): 3-12 (in Bulgarian)  Partial Polish translation in Ziemscy aniołowie niebiańscy ludzie: Anachoreci w bułgarskiej literaturze i kulturze. Ed. Georgi Minczew. Białzstok: Orthdruk, 2002, 121-32; 133-35.

Current Projects

The Christian Hajjis: Mobility and Status in the Ottoman Empire (monograph)
Women and Mobility in the Eastern Mediterranean
Eastern Christian Widows   


.         Director, Harriman Institute at Columbia University, 2022-present
·         Founding Director, “Culture, Religion, and Communication” Unit, Columbia University Global Health Research Center of Central Asia 
·         Member, Editorial Board, Starobulgarska Literatura, 2013-present
·         Member, Administrative Committee, Harriman Institute, 2015-2018 
·         Member of the Faculty Steering Committee, Columbia Global Centers, Turkey, 2015-present 
·         Faculty Director of the Summer Program “Balkan Transcultural Studies,” Columbia University-Global Center, Istanbul/Boğaziçi University, 2015-present