Emily Chesley is a PhD candidate in medieval history whose research focuses on women and gender in the Eastern Mediterranean. Her dissertation writes the first social history of women in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire from the 5th-8th centuries CE. Using a wide variety of sources from Syriac homilies and hagiographies to Roman law to Arabic letters, her project records the daily lives of women across the social strata in this contested border region. Emily brings to her scholarship further interdisciplinary training in early Christianity and Patristics, early Islam and medieval Jewish history, art history and material culture, paleography, and digital humanities.
Emily is a Graduate Research Fellow at the Center for Culture, Society, and Religion during the 2023—2024 academic year. She received a Fulbright Greece-Turkey Joint Research Award in 2022—2023 for her dissertation research; she was a Visiting Researcher at the Koç University Center for Research on Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) and an Associate Member of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). Her work has also been supported through the A. G. Leventis Foundation, the North American Patristics Society, the Stanley J. Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, the Committee for the Study of Late Antiquity, the Program in the Ancient World, and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. She was awarded the Dr. Jack Jallo and Mrs. Gage Johnston Fellowship in Digital Humanities at Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute in 2018 to analyze a Syriac OCR engine and held a Summer Junior Fellowship at the Library of Congress in 2016 working on a project digitizing microfilm from manuscript libraries in the Mediterranean.
She hosts and produces the ancient history podcast Women Who Went Before with Rebekah Haigh. Emily serves on the English Literary Critics Committee for the Syriac-English Bible and volunteers at Beth Mardutho. Her work has been published in Studia Patristica and Hugoye, and she is currently co-editing a volume on medieval Syriac visual culture.
MA, History, Princeton University
MDiv, Princeton Theological Seminary
BA, Azusa Pacific University