XVe Rencontres internationales des jeunes byzantinistes

Byzantium within its margins: Centres, Peripheries and Outlines

The call for papers is available here!

A mountain, a cross, an executioner: everything in the well-known miniature of the Chludov Psalter carries us “outside”. At the gates of the city and on the margins of society, the Crucifixion also recalls, through the memory of Iconoclasm, the shifting outlines of Christian dogma. From the margin where it is seemingly relegated, the image overlooks the text to better mitigate its authority. Yet, in this remarkable mise en abyme, a sense of confusion remains: which of the written word or the image holds centre stage – if there is any?

There is but one step from the margins of the psalter to those of Byzantium. As a quintessential microcosm, the illuminated manuscript invites us to extend this ambivalent notion to the scale of a world. Like the shifting lines of a border, the tension emerging between the text and the miniature likewise surfaces in varied ways across the map: between the capital and its provinces, the Empire and its vassals, the Christian prince and his neighbours.

Thus, some borderlands emerge over time as centres of power in their own right – Serbia and Bulgaria, Epirus and Trebizond – occasionally turning Byzantium itself into a margin. Others, further removed from Constantinople geographically, culturally or spiritually – nevertheless maintain subtle ties with it to better define their own identity, such as Armenia, Sicily, Rus’ and even Ethiopia – all in a way Byzantium(s) beyond Byzantium.

By scaling down the territorial questions of the Empire to urban space, or transposing them onto the space of the church, the same paradigm invites us to retrace their axes and thresholds. City walls and structures, church architecture and decoration, pilgrimage sites and necropoleis constantly reshape and redefine the notion of liminality.

Both the Torture of Christ and the sacrilege of iconoclasm suggest a social norm: heresy, like Calvary, excludes, cuts off and marginalises. Yet the fringes of Byzantine society, which go far beyond contemporary projections, compose a nuanced mosaic whose many elements, often overshadowed – women, criminals, ascetics –, call upon us to rethink the cohesion of the whole.

Monks and monasteries proclaim their marginal status as much as they idealise it: both their location, on the fringes if not within the heart of the city, as well as the social recognition they receive seemingly contradict the reclusion they claim to seek. Exile itself, though bitter, keeps its object surely within the line of sight: the exile is watched when far away, writes back and sometimes returns.

To consider Byzantium, lastly, requires the distant and decentred gaze of foreign eyes. Armenian, Latin and Syriac chroniclers, Arab and Mongol emissaries turned a careful, sometimes cruel eye on the Empire, its culture and rites, which historians would be wrong to ignore. The discipline of Byzantine history itself has long been relegated to the margins of the field, as a necessary but uninteresting transition, with Byzantium variously held as the last jolt of the GrecoRoman world, the exhaustingly long final breath of the Late Roman Empire or the prelude to Ottoman Turkey.

Centres, norms, limits: everything remained to be done for the partisans of an autonomous study of Byzantine culture. Today, the delicate tension between the centre of the world and the margins of the Empire reflects both the advances and the pitfalls faced by academic inquiry. Such are the aims of the XVth Rencontres : to consider Byzantium within its margins, from its margins and as a margin.

Papers may concern the following themes:
• Territorial margins, borders and spaces of transition
• Settlement of margins and population transfers
• The situation of women, children and slaves
• Definitions and transgressions of gender norms
• Disease, disability, infirmity and death
• Religious controversies, heresy, excommunication and anathema
• Monastic communities
• Visible forms of marginality such as dress and foodways
• Byzantium as a margin

Papers, with an expected duration of 20 minutes, may be presented in French or English. Proposals for presentations (250-300 words), as well as a brief biography including the candidate’s affiliation, their current level of study (master, doctoral, post-doctoral) and their area of study should be sent tà
aemb.paris@gmail.com by March 31, 2024, at the latest.

The conference will be held in-person in Paris on October 4-5, 2024. Participants’ travel costs may be covered by the association if they are unable to receive funding from their institutions. Selected candidates will be asked to register as members of the association

BSA: Byzantine Archaeology and History Course

Byzantine Archaeology and History Course

Justice in Byzantium – 13th to 15th April 2024

In 2024, the Symposium will take place in Canterbury at the University of Kent, for the first time.  The chosen theme is ‘Justice in Byzantium’. This theme will facilitate inter-disciplinary discussion of research and ideas embracing Byzantine history, society, culture, and law. Sessions will be arranged around the themes of ‘Social Justice’; ‘Unwritten Rules’; ‘Criminal Justice’; ‘Revenge’; ‘Civil Law & Justice’; and ‘Divine Justice’.
The main sessions of the conference will be held in the Templeman Lecture Theatre, with a reception and dinner in the Darwin Conference Suite, Darwin College.
Confirmed speakers include Daphne Penna, Dennis Stathakopoulos, Carlos Machado, Arietta Papaconstantinou, Rosemary Morris, Anna Kelley, Lorena Atzeri, Mike Humphreys, Catherine Holmes, Robert Wisniewski, Peter Sarris, Matthijs Wibier, Simon Corcoran, Caroline Humfress, Maroula Perisanidi, Dan Reynolds and Shaun Tougher.
Please keep checking the website periodically: further information will be added in due course, and continuously updated. The complete programme can be found here: Conference Programme.
To register please click here.

PhD position – The Slavonic Metaphrasis of Byzantine Orthodoxy – KU Leuven

You will work as a PhD student in an interdisciplinary team, contributing to the FWO WEAVE project “The Slavonic Metaphrasis of Byzantine Orthodoxy. A Digital Inventory of South Slavonic Translation Literature applied to Research on Translated Authority and Linked Texts”. At KU Leuven you will be part of the Research Group of Greek Studies (Faculty of Arts: Literary and Cultural Studies Research Unit). The project involves collaboration with the Institut für Slawistik of the University of Innsbruck.
Project
Medieval Slavonic literature consists mostly of translations of Byzantine Greek works. It is a normative literature deeply imbued with a sense of tradition and religious and textual orthodoxy, but at the same time it is the product of the inherently transformative process of translation (metaphrasis). In this project you address these normative and transformative tendencies that have shaped the textual culture of the Slavonic Middle Ages. You study textual authority and the role of the Byzantine ‘florilegic habit’ in Greek-Slavonic translation literature and develop digital tools, drawing on the life’s work of one of the most renowned modern scholars of Slavonic literature. From 1975 until his death, Francis Thomson (1935-2021) prepared a catalogue of Greek-Slavonic translation literature: his work resulted in an unpublished Cartotheca of more than 100,000 handwritten index cards, which constitutes an invaluable source of information for the project. The digitization of this Cartotheca is part of the project. This PhD position will focus on the investigation of text collections, the authority of tradition and conceptions of orthodoxy, with a case study that involves florilegia and question-and-answer literature. As a topic for that case study the principal investigators (PIs) propose the tradition, Greek context and transmission of the Slavonic ‘Sotêrios’, but well-argued alternatives that fit within the frame of the project can be considered. In your research and in the development of the digital card index, you collaborate intensively with the Leuven PIs and occasionally with Prof. Jürgen Fuchsbauer (Innsbruck).

Profiel

The successful candidate:
– combines an MA in Classics (Greek) or Byzantine Studies with proficiency in Old Slavonic and/or an MA in Slavistics combined with proficiency in (Byzantine) Greek;
– has an interest in expanding their expertise to include digital approaches;
– has an excellent oral and written command of English or German;
– is willing and able to work both independently and as part of a broader research team;
– is expected to spend on average 80% of their time on their PhD research, and 20% on database development and academic and administrative services to the project and the research group;
– is expected to work in Leuven and is willing to work abroad in Innsbruck for 6 months.

Aanbod

The full-time position is normally for 4 years, contingent upon positive evaluation after the first year (= initial 1-year contract, extended by 3 years after positive evaluation). The starting date is September 2, 2024, or as soon as possible.
The successful candidate will:
– receive a generous scholarship;
– enjoy academic guidance by the PIs;
– be integrated into an attractive and diverse research environment, with people from various backgrounds, in different career stages and with different kinds of expertise;
– become part of an institute with a longstanding tradition of textual scholarship and research on the literature of the Christian East;
– benefit from project partnership with the Slavistics Department of the University of Innsbruck;
– have funding available for costs related to the research, e.g. to travel to conferences.

Interesse

Please upload in the application tool:
(1) your CV, including student track record;
(2) a motivation letter;
(3) the names and contact details of two academic references;
(4) if already available, a specimen of academic writing (max. 15 pages).
For more information please contact Prof. Dr. Reinhart Ceulemans (reinhart.ceulemans@kuleuven.be) or Dr. Lara Sels (lara.sels@kuleuven.be).
For more Please click here.

Call for Papers | Doctoral Seminar: Projecting Poetry

The TORCH Network Poetry in the Medieval World (University of Oxford) is delighted to introduce “Projecting Poetry”, an initiative designed to promote cross-disciplinary discussion, foster collaboration, and provide a platform for DPhil/PhD students engaged in research across various fields and working on medieval poetry. The goal is to create an opportunity to present ongoing research to a diverse audience of fellow students and seniors.

We invite submissions from DPhil/PhD students at an early stage of their programmes, conducting research in any field and working on poetry in any area and culture of the medieval world (chronological boundaries may be discussed with organisers); any methodological approach is welcome. We especially encourage submissions that aim to explore potential intersections between academic disciplines.

Submission Guidelines

  • Abstract: Please submit a 250-word abstract in English (PDF form) to ugo.mondini@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk, including the (working) research title, name, affiliation, and contact information.
  • Submission Deadline: Abstracts can be submitted any time during the academic year.
  • Extended Descriptions: If accepted, speakers should present a document in English (max. 1,500 words) and a title fifteen days before the seminar, with a more extensive description of their interests, research goals and, if they wish, of the challenges they face. This document will be shared with the seminar participants; therefore, it should be accessible to non-specialists.

Event Structure

  • Sessions will be organised online for non-Oxford students and in hybrid format during term time for Oxford participants.
  • Each speaker will have 20 minutes to present their research; a discussion follows. The event will be conducted in English.

Contact Information

For further information and inquiries, please get in touch with Ugo Mondini at ugo.mondini@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk.

Non-presenting seminar participants

If you want to take part in the seminars, both in person and online, please send an email to Ugo Mondini at ugo.mondini@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk with your name, affiliation, research interests, and contact information.

Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture: Online Lecture: Byzantium as Europe’s Black Mirror

Online Lecture: Byzantium as Europe’s Black Mirror

The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture is pleased to announce the 2023–2024 edition of its annual lecture with the Harvard University Standing Committee on Medieval Studies.

Friday, February 16, 2024 | 12:00 PM EST | Zoom
Byzantium as Europe’s Black Mirror
Anthony Kaldellis, University of Chicago

In the course of its long self-fashioning, “the West” (later “Europe”) set itself off as a superior alternative to a number of imagined Others, including the infidel world of Islam, the primitive nature of the New World, and even its own regressive past, the Middle Ages. This lecture will explore the unique role that Byzantium played in this process. While it too was identified as the antithesis of an idealized Europe, this was done in a specific way with lasting consequences down to the present. Byzantium was constructed not to be fully an Other, but rather to function as an inversion of the Christian, Roman, and Hellenic ideals that Europe itself aspired to embody even as it appropriated those patrimonies from the eastern empire. It became Europe’s twin evil brother, its internal “Black Mirror.” Once we understand this dynamic, we can chart a new path forward for both scholarly and popular perceptions of the eastern empire that are no longer beholden to western anxieties.

Anthony Kaldellis is a Professor of Classics at the University of Chicago.

Advance registration required at https://maryjahariscenter.org/events/byzantium-as-europes-black-mirror

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Harvard University Standing Committee on Medieval Studies.

Contact Brandie Ratliff (mjcbac@hchc.edu), Director, Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture with any questions.