Äldsta levande bysantinaren

Lagom till AIEB:s stora konferens i Belgrad kan det tyska magasinet Spektrum under rubriken Der letzte Byzantiner berätta om  en ormskinnstall i de grekiska Pindos-bergen som dendrokronologer har konstaterat att den började spira år 940. Den gången härskade Konstantin Porfyrogennetos och Romanos Lakapenos över myllan där den står.

En kanske inspirerande nyhet efter sommaruppehållet?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Farväl till nygrekiska studier i Köpenhamn

Nygrekiska studier vid Köpenhamns universitet lägger ned – en beklagansvärd utveckling som man kunnat ana sig till av tidigare inlägg på vår blogg – och tar farväl med en workshop, inklusive fyra evenemang som är öppna för allmänheten:





Vi tar också tillfället i akt att informera om den avslutande mottagningen även om den kräver registrering:

Workshoppen afsluttes lørdag den 25. juni kl. 17 med en reception som markerer den beklagelige afslutning på 50 års forskning og undervisning i græsk sprog, kultur, historie og samfundsforhold – fra nomadefolk til græske dialekter, fra byzantinsk palæografi til borgerkrig, fra dansk-græske relationer til græske og danske skolebørns forestillinger om Europa, fra futurumspartikler til pædagogisk sprogindlæring på højeste niveau, fra middelaldergræsk til teologisk nytænkning, ny græsk litteratur, nye guldaldre, økonomisk krise, højreekstremisme og meget meget mere. Denne rigdom i forskning og undervisning skal vi fejre og tage afsked med i en skøn blanding af ouzo og græsk mousserende vin og måske en liflig melodi!  Hele herligheden er fuldt finansieret af Sophia Scopetéas fond til fremme for Grækenlandsstudier ved Københavns Universitet.

The workshop will end on Saturday 25 June at 5 p.m. with a reception that marks the end of fifty years of teaching and research at the University of Copenhagen in all aspects of post-Classical Greek: language, culture, history, social studies, from nomadic people to Greek dialects, from Byzantine paleography to civil war, from Greek-Danish relations to Greek and Danish schoolchildren’s perceptions of Europe, from aspect in the future tense to high standard pedagogics of language teaching, from medieval Greek to contemporary Orthodox theology, through every period of Greek literature, encompassing new golden ages and extremist dawns, economic crises and much much more. It is this wealth of teaching and research that we will celebrate and to which we will bid farewell in a blend of ouzo and Greek wine with perhaps some melodies delightful as well as sad! The reception is generously supported as the final endeavor of the Sophia Scopetéa Fund whose purpose has been to promote the study of Modern Greek at the University of Copenhagen.

Posted in events | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Reading and Pleasure in Istanbul


The Summer school “Reading Pleasure – Pleasure Reading: Medieval Approaches to Reading” took place at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, 23-28 May, and was organized by Christian Høgel and Ingela Nilsson. This was a professionally rewarding experience for all those who took part in it, contributing to launch a new interdisciplinary debate on the concepts of reading and of pleasure and their possible interactions.

In an environment which mixed a friendly atmosphere with academic rigor, the participants – PhD students from various disciplines and various places – attended four plenary lectures in the auditorium of the Swedish Institute and had the opportunity to explore several topics: the world of the Persian novels (Bo Utas), the use of therapeutic and preventive reading in English physiologic works (Virginia Langum), the classic Arabic erotic literature (Pernilla Myrne) and the different reading practices in Byzantium (Stratis Papaioannou). Moreover, plenty of time was given for asking questions and different points of view were offered by the audience.

In the morning sessions, which took place on different locations depending on the research theme of the day (the “little Hagia sophia” with Ingela Nilsson, the Galata tower with AnnaLinden Weller, the Chora Museum with Christian Høgel and the Grand Hotel de Londres’ lobby with David Wallace), small groups of 4-5 students were guided by their respective tutor through an analysis of the previously assigned readings and were requested to critically engage with the texts and propose new interpretations of the most intriguing passages.

In the afternoons, after the lectures, differently composed groups met again at the Swedish Institute: at this occasion each PhD student, in turn, presented their own research project, continuing the discussion already started during the poster presentation session on the first day. The participants – both professors and PhD students – were identifying the strengths and the weaknesses of the given papers and responded to them from their own perspective and knowledge, providing fresh insights and animating the debate. By doing so, they paved the way for a vivid discussion and analysis; by bringing together their perspectives and the ones of the speakers, new ‘knowledge products’ were being created. The result was that the collaboration across disciplines was one of the biggest strengths of the summer school and turned out to be extremely helpful for re-thinking and enlarging the research paradigms.

In this respect, the wonderful boat trip across the Bosphorus and the visit at the Byzantine-Genoese-Ottoman fortress of Anadolu Kavaği, on 26 May, was a beautiful way of engaging with historical and theoretical questions, which was particularly useful for those participants coming from the field of Byzantine and Ottoman studies.

A special mention needs to be made on the excellent organization of the summer school. Despite the strict schedule and the number of academic activities, the participants had enough time to socialize and discuss their work informally. In fact, this was very useful for gaining a strong feeling of belonging, a sense of a meaningful and active participation in the vibrant ‘life’ of the summer school.

On the way back home from Istanbul, most of the students expressed the satisfaction of having taken part of this event and demonstrated enthusiasm for having met new colleagues. In sum, the lively debates during the summer school will contribute significantly to generating a renewed focus and motivation for the completion of the PhD students’ research tasks.


In the Büyük Londra lobby

Lorenzo Ciolfi, Paris / Bukarest

Posted in events | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Kurs vid Newmaninstitutet i Uppsala

Newmaninstitutet i Uppsala ger kursen Ortodoxa ikoner i modern litteratur (7,5 hp) senare delen av höstterminen 2016 (7/11 2016 – 13/1 2017). Den går på halvdistans med undervisning i Uppsala två heldagar, 23/11 och 14/12. Den planeras också gå lokalt i Uppsala med undervisning på måndagar och onsdagar kl. 13-15. Studietakten är halvfart. Kursen ges på grundnivå, men förkunskaper motsvarande minst 30 hp tidigare studier på högskolenivå, gärna inom teologi, filosofi, filologi, litteraturvetenskap eller konstvetenskap, rekommenderas. Undervisande lärare är NBN:s medlem Helena Bodin.

Kursen behandlar modern skönlitteratur – lyrik, noveller och romaner – och dess relation till ortodoxa ikoner. Mot bakgrund av det sena 1800-talets ryska litteratur studeras det växande intresset för ikoner inom 1900-talets och det tidiga 2000-talets öst- och västeuropeiska litteratur, med betoning på några framträdande svenska författarskap, fram till postmodern kulturteori. Kursen bygger på en bred förståelse av ikonbegreppet som innefattar inte bara bildkonst utan även hymnografi, kyrkoarkitektur och ortodoxt kristen liturgisk praktik. Den ger en grundläggande orientering i ortodox ikonteologi och estetik på bysantinsk grund, i litteraturvetenskaplig metod och i intermediala studier på semiotisk grund. Deltagarna får öva sin förmåga att redogöra för tidigare forskning inom området och att formulera egna analyser och tolkningar av samspelet mellan modern litteratur och ortodoxa ikoner.

För kursplan med litteraturlista se

Sen anmälan går bra att göra här:
Posted in events | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Judith Herrin receives the Heineken Prize

Once again, the field of Byzantine studies and affiliated disciplines have caught wider attention from a high-ranking scientific award.

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has awarded the 2016  Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History (a sum of USD 200,000) to Professor Judith Herrin, Emeritus Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King’s College London (UK), and Constantine Leventis Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Hellenic Studies.

The Heineken Prizes are the largest international research prizes in the Netherlands and are awarded every other year. The winners are selected by juries consisting of leading international researchers put together by the Academy. The Heineken Prizes amount to USD 200,000 each. More information about the Heineken Prizes is available at www.knaw.nl/heinekenprizes.

Judith Herrin will receive the 2016 Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History for her pioneering research into Medieval cultures in Mediterranean civilisations and for establishing the crucial significance of the Byzantine Empire in history. It will be presented on 29 September 2016 during a special meeting of the Academy in the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam.

Posted in events | Leave a comment

Chronicles as Literature at the Crossroad of Past and Present

In the last days of April, Munich was the venue for a conference devoted to Byzantine historiography, and more specifically to ways of writing it and ways of reading it.

The city of Karl Krumbacher, whose portrait the participants had the opportunity to admire upon registration, seemed like a befitting place to discuss some of the definitions that he (Geschichte der Byzantinischen Literatur, 1891) and Herbert Hunger (Die hochsprachliche profane Literatur der Byzantiner, 1978) had once been influential in establishing.


The convenient location of the hotel in the Schellingstrasse also offered the participants apt time and frequent opportunities to inspect the nearby antiquarian bookshop window of J. Kitzinger

The question of genre in particular turned out to be frequently and often hotly debated. What constitutes a work of history, and how does a proper historiographical work differ from a chronicle, a chronography, or a simple epitome? Talks devoted to problematic or even enigmatic aspects of early works like the Chronikon Paschale (Christian Gastgeber), the history works of John of Antioch (Umberto Roberto), John Malalas (Adam Goldwyn) and George Monachos (Dmitry Afinogenov) mingled with analyses of the later works of Symeon the Logothete (William Adler), George Kedrenos (Roger Scott), Skylitzes Continuatus (Larisa Vilimonovic) and Michael Glycas (Varvara Zharkaya). John Zonaras enjoyed particular attention from both Luisa Andriollo, Sotiria Protogirou and Theofili Kampianaki. Sergei Mariev discussed the overall identity of the Byzantine chronicle, whereas Richard Burgess – who explicitly aimed at “Freeing Byzantine Historiography from the Tyranny of Krumbacher and Hunger” – proposed an exhaustive model for classifying most of them, and Paolo Odorico repeatedly returned to the need to put them back in their historical environment instead of picking them out of it.

Given the last aspect in particular, the Armenian outlook provided by Annalinden Weller and the Late Antique perspective offered by David Westberg were helpful by not only freeing the Byzantine historiography as such from the constraints of modern genres, but by also widening the outlook beyond the Byzantine paradigm. Strangely absent in this concern, except for in the paper of Federico Montinaro, was Theophanes Confessor and his Syrian sources, as was the Patria-collection. The concluding discussion made it clear that comparisons with Western (Latin) and Eastern (Arabic, Persian) historiography could have rendered some interesting results. But perhaps it can become the topic of another conference.

The conference was arranged by Ingela Nilsson (Uppsala) and Sergei Mariev (Munich) and sponsored by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.


Posted in events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bysans och klimatförändringar

Den tyska tidningen Spiegel uppmärksammar en kanadensisk dokumentär från 2013 som handlar om 535-36 års köldknäpp, kanske mest känd från vår käre skrön- och krönikör Prokopios, men också från arkeologiska och dendrokronologiska analyser. Man har länge antagit att förklaringen till fenomenet står att finna i ett större vulkanutbrott som slungat ut aska i atmosfären – liknande det som för 200 år sedan ledde till ett “år utan sommar” i hela världen – men inte kunnat lokalisera källan. Nyare forskning tyder på att supervulkanen Ilopango i El Salvador kan ha haft ett utbrott det året.

Prokopios apokalyptiska skildring av “solen som mist sitt sken” har legat till grund för en rad spekulativa försök att hitta en klimatbetingad orsak till alla de olyckor som samme historieskrivare knyter till kejsar Justinianus’ återstående regeringstid, till “antikens slut”,  och kanske rentav till den nordiska myten om Fimbulvinter som föregår Ragnarök . Dokumentären spar inte precis på effekterna när den – vilket i nuläget får betraktas som en ren spekulation – knyter den plötsliga temperatursänkningen till utbrottet av böldpesten i Konstantinopel ett par år senare.

Icke desto mindre får den här länkade produktionen (för icke tyskspråkiga tittare verkar ett engelskt original finnas här) åtminstone betraktas som en tankeväckande erinran om att Bysans, även om det i kulturell mening är att betrakta som ett förglobalt imperium, ur ett fågelperspektiv hör samman i en gemensam globalhistoria, där orsakssammanhangen ibland är vida större än en Kosmas Indikopleustes någonsin kunde föreställa sig.



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment