Valentina Izmirlieva

Valentina Izmirlieva



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

Interests and Research

Valentina Izmirlieva is a scholar of Balkan and Russian religious cultures with a strong background in critical theory and intellectual history. Two areas of specialization represent the scope of her teaching interests: the religious culture of the Orthodox Slavs with an emphasis on the medieval and early modern periods, and literary Modernism and Postmodernism with a focus on Vladimir Nabokov. Much of her research addresses cultural transfers among Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the context of multi-religious empires. 


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 and 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   


·         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