Interview: Annalinden Weller

The two-year postdoc in Text and Narrative in Byzantium at Uppsala University is over, and Annalinden Weller is leaving Sweden after two productive years that were concluded with a conference on Reception Histories of the Future in August 2017. As the title of the conference indicates, Annalinden is, in fact, not only a Byzantinist but also a prolific writer of science fiction under the pen name of Arkady Martine. The NBN has managed to catch her for a quick interview on the topic.

After a little more than two years in Uppsala you now have contracts for both a monograph and a novel – how did that happen? Was Sweden that stimulating or was it, in fact, really boring?

It turns out that fiction influences academic work and the other way around! My academic passions – looking at community formation and identity on borderlands in the Byzantine East, a topic I have been exploring in one way or another since my dissertation – easily blended with my life-long love of science fiction, and I found myself writing a space opera about empire, identity, and literature at the same time as I was working on a project about Byzantine empire, identity, and literature. I never felt like the two projects were in conflict: the ideas I encountered and the data I wrestled with in my academic work would show up, transformed or reused, in my fiction.

In terms of getting a monograph and a novel written at the same time in Sweden – well, I was really lucky to have a lot of time devoted to research as part of my postdoctoral position, plus a lot of stimulating conversation about rhetoric, narrative, identity-formation, Byzantium in general … so I had both the space to get this work done and an environment conducive to it. And in addition, I use fiction writing as a break from academic writing – and vice versa! If I’m stuck on one, working on the other for a day or even a week can feel really refreshing.

You’re a historian and a writer of fiction – how do you combine these two personas?

I write fiction under an open pen name – ‘Arkady Martine’ – so that people who are primarily interested in my fiction can find it easily, and people who are primarily interested in my work as a historian can google my legal name and find what they’re looking for, too. But despite this I feel like there’s very little difference between being a good historian and being a good writer – I am telling a story both ways. I am describing a narrative and making my audience pay attention, both ways. I simply use different tools. And because my fiction has always been inspired by my academic research, writing science fiction often feels like an extension of, or a development of, the theories I’ve worked out and the beliefs I have about societies and cultures as a historian.

Can you tell us something about the novel without giving away too much?

I got the idea for the novel from thinking about the Armenian Catholicos Petros I Getadarj, who in 1044 CE was involved with turning over the Armenian kingdom of Ani to the Byzantine emperor Constantine Monomachos. I kept wondering – what would it be like to be that person? The person who decided to give over sovereignty to a culturally oppressive and invasive empire, in hopes of preserving some kind of autonomy?

So at first my main character in the novel was someone who did just that. In the course of writing, though, I ended up switching protagonists – my protagonist now is the successor of the man who betrayed her country to the empire, and I’m more interested in thinking about what happens afterward…

Also there are spaceships, mind-sharing, and plot-bearing poetry contests.

Interview: IN

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Þrír Vegir í Miklagarð (part three)

Wulf: A Displaced Anglo-Saxon, c. 1090

It had been the better part of a lifetime since the Conquest, and Wulf was resolved to stay and settle in his adoptive city. His loyalty to his former liege lords had been remote and largely inherited; he had never seen Harold Godƿinson in the flesh and never personally sworn him an oath of fealty. The emperor Alexios I was another matter entirely. He was not terribly tall or broad shouldered, but Wulf had always found him firm and well spoken. He was courteous and generous with his foreign soldiers’ pay. Wulf was proud to be one of his personal guards and had thwarted several attempts on his life with zeal. He had fought with the emperor before in the field as well, and had no reason to think him anything but a capable commander. Wulf was generally fatalistic in temperament, but when he looked around him at the wonders of Alexios’s splendid city, he could not help praying that such a great and godly land would never be left open to foreign conquest.

Wulf had never considered himself particularly devout until coming to Constantinople. The world was turbulent enough and it was said permanence rested with the Lord alone, but that hadn’t done him any good in the meantime when he wandered without king or home. He recalled an old sentiment, Wel bið þam þe him are seceð, frofre to Fæder on heofonum, þær us eal seo fæstnung stondeð (“It is well for him, the one who seeks grace, comfort from the Father in the heavens, there, for us, all security stands”), but wondered if perhaps its author had never seen a city as magnificent as Constantinople. Wulf knew better than to assume any city could maintain unfailing stability, but surely this one more than most embodied permanence in Middangeard.

Wulf’s favorite thing about the city was, in fact, its many basilicas and monasteries, which he could survey from the life-guard’s quarters at the top of the imperial palace. He liked being able to turn any street corner and encounter a saint’s relic or local shrine. The largely unaltered nature of the rite, whether he accompanied the emperor to Hagia Sophia or attended services in any of these smaller chapels, reassured him. Even the smaller buildings tended to be larger and more ornate than anything he remembered from his childhood, in thicker-walled, dimmer structures across Wessex. Alexios’s Orthodox Christianity was of a different sort than Wulf’s Catholicism, but Wulf had so rarely been to regular church services when he was young, or in his travels across Europe, that it bothered him little. He had never spoken Latin, so he acclimated to the Greek liturgy easily enough. For all intents and purposes, Wulf was content to share God and temple with his emperor, and Alexios Komnenos was far more his emperor than Harold Godƿinson or the bastard William with his invading army would ever be.

Many of Wulf’s fellow life-guards were English as well, and he believed they tended to share his views of religion and allegiance. The majority of the guards hailed from the Northlands, and, while some were unrepentant adventurers who intended to return home wealthy, he found they predominantly agreed in attitude. Wulf had grown up with a nagging distrust of Danes, but face to face, they seemed like any other fighting man and their language was familiar from traders and settlers who remained in Wessex from Cnut’s time. Wulf noticed that the English portion of the guard was growing, however, and he found their company heartening. Some Greeks claimed they were all from Thule, but the emperor and many members of his court seemed to be able to tell most of them apart. Wulf himself was not necessarily much better when it came to distinguishing Geonoese from Venetians, or Arabs from Turks, though he believed he was gradually improving. As Wulf intended to stay in the emperor’s guard for the foreseeable future and remain in the city after that, he assumed his abilities to recognize other foreigners would develop with time.

Brigid Ehrmantraut

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The walls of Constantinople (Wikimedia commons)

 

Further Reading

Primary Sources (listed in their English translation ed.):

Accounts of Medieval Constantinople: The Patria. Translated by Albrecht Berger. Harvard: Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, 2013.

Grettis Saga. Translated by William Morris & Eirikr Magnusson. Edited by Sveinbjorn Thordarson. Icelandic Saga Database, 2007. http://sagadb.org/grettis_saga.en.

Hrafnkells saga freysgoða. Translated by John Coles. Edited by Sveinbjorn Thordarson. Icelandic Saga Database, 2008. http://sagadb.org/hrafnkels_saga_freysgoda.en .

Komena, Anna. The Alexiad. Translated by E.R.A. Sewter. Edited by Peter Frankopan. New York: Penguin Classics, 2009.

Laxdæla saga. Translated by Muriel A.C. Press. Edited by Sveinbjorn Thordarson. Icelandic Saga Database, 2007. http://sagadb.org/laxdaela_saga.en.

Liutprand of Cremona. “Relatio de Legatione Constantinopolitana,” in The Works of Liudprand of Cremona. Translated by F.A. Wright. London 1930.

Psellos, Michael. Chronographia. Translated by E.R.A Sewter. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953.

“The Wanderer.” In The Old English Elegies, edited by Anne L. Klinck. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 2001.

Secondary Sources:

Blöndal, Sigfús and Benedikt S. Benedikz. The Varangians of Byzantium: An Aspect of Byzantine Military History. 1978. Reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Androshchuk, F. O. Vikings In the East: Essays On Contacts Along the Road to Byzantium (800-1100). Uppsala : Uppsala Universitet, 2013.

Marinis, Vasileios. “Defining Liturgical Space,” in The Byzantine World, edited by Paul Stephenson. New York: Routledge, 2010.

“Viking ‘graffiti.’” National Museum of Denmark. 2017. http://en.natmus.dk/historical-knowledge/denmark/prehistoric-period-until-1050-ad/the-viking-age/expeditions-and-raids/viking-graffiti/.

Thomas, Hugh M. “The Significance and Fate of the Native English Landholders of 1086.” The English Historical Review 118, no. 476 (2003): 303-33. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3490123.

A quick note on translations:

The Old English quotation comes from the closing lines of “The Wanderer,” and Anglo-Saxon poem found in the Exeter Book; the translation is my own. Heilagr fróðleikr is my attempt to render “Hagia Sophia” in Old Norse. Old English and Old Norse proper nouns are all attested in the Primary Reading list.

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Þrír Vegir í Miklagarð (part two)

Bolli: An Opportunistic Icelander, c. 1040

Bolli’s ax sat heavily on his shoulders, but he did not notice the weight. The emperor’s life-guard was back from Bulgar-fighting in Prilep and he was thinking about the new red cloak he would buy with the resulting wages and extra plunder. After purple, which no one besides the Grikkjakonungr and his family could touch, Bolli had decided that he liked red best. As he stood in line, arms displayed and shields clanking in turn, the garment began to come into focus.

People would come running when Bolli’s ship docked, whispering amongst themselves with jealous excitement and slighted awe. He would dress exclusively in fine furs and scarlet cloth, with large gold buckles glinting in the sunlight. It would be summer when he returned, and the sun would stay sitting, high in the heavens until the day was almost done, as if waiting for his triumphant return to set all his buckles and rings, weapons inlay and belt fastenings flashing. And then they would unload the ship and the precious metals and stones, the boxes stuck full to bursting with coins, and the silks with their saturated colors would dance, reflected in their wide and startled eyes. Or so went Bolli’s vision. In reality only his nose was in danger of turning red, and gradually it grew redder and redder under a more regular, if violent, sun.

Miklagard was worth the investment. Bolli had left home with plenty of funds, which were required to join any of the higher levels of the Greek military, including the emperor’s life-guards. Happily, fortune was smiling on him and with the latest campaign, he had begun to profit. Bolli heard from his fellow guards that in Norway and Sweden, they could not inherit while away, serving in Greece. On a certain level, he supposed he understood the sense of the regulation, but something about it stung him as patently unfair. Money was replaceable, and Bolli had little doubt he would return to Iceland far richer than his parents; nonetheless, the thought of losing family land or having an ancestral homestead pass to a more distant relative over such a trip was disconcerting.

Bolli gazed out over the neat ranks of soldiers, above the richly robed officials processing past, to the silhouetted towers against the sky, and the sea beyond, bluer than he had ever known blue could be. If he listened above the banging of shields and rapid Greek and Norse, Russian and Italian, Latin and English, and other languages he could not name, he could hear every kind of ship imaginable loading and unloading at the harbor below. The smells of spices and oils and drying grain from their cargos caught the draft and wafted upwards on a mercifully cool breeze. Bolli thought of the city’s stately public baths and chariot races. Both concepts were foreign and he had little enough time away from his duties as guard, but he had taken to them quickly, along with the boundless energy of the population for their institutions. He decided he would probably have gone to Miklagard anyway, even if it meant losing property at home.

Standing a row over from Bolli was a tall man, who towered over all the Greeks in the procession before them (and even over most of his fellow Varangians). This was their commander, Harald Sigurðarson himself. Bolli had great respect for the man, who, it was said, had been unjustly exiled from his native Norway. In Harald’s case, already deprived of his rightful inheritance, Bolli could well understand the decision to go east. He remembered making his own decision; his family had picked up and sailed to Iceland several generations earlier and he had reasoned that if they could do so and prosper well enough, he could certainly make his livelihood in Miklegard, at least for a few years.

Some of the guards occasionally discussed the rune stones they hoped their families would raise in their honor if they did not return home. Bolli had seen many memorials of the sort, especially during his travels throughout Sweden. He was initially optimistic enough to assume he would not be needing one himself, but composing hypothetical inscriptions made for good conversation, especially on long nights on campaign. After the recent fighting with the Normans in Italy where many of his countrymen had fallen, Bolli had begun to view his posthumous reputation in slightly more realistic terms. Death in battle was admirable, especially defending the emperor of so fine a city, but he still assumed he would live to flaunt his scarlet cloak and unload his ship of gold.

Harald did not speak of rune stones, though his companions often did. Some praised him for his stoic demeanor or credited his god-fearing resolve, and Harald did seem more inclined towards the city’s many churches than much of the other Northmen. Bolli, however, took his commander’s silence as proof of exile and royal ambitions. Perhaps Harald did not intend to die in battle at all. Perhaps any day he would take his wealth and leave in the dead of night to raise an army at home. It was whispered that he had already sent several shipments of gold to Prince Yaroslav in Kiev. Bolli had only heard such rumors from dubious sources, but saw nothing wrong with safeguarding one’s fortune in any case. He considered the feasibility of doing the same.

Brigid Ehrmantraut

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Varangian guards. Madrid Skylitzes (Wikimedia Commons)

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Þrír Vegir í Miklagarð (part one)

Halfdan: A Swedish Varangian via Kievan Rus, c. 990

Halfdan was not the first Halfdan to come to Miklagard. This he discovered shortly after his arrival from Kiev with Prince Vladimir’s other Rus. On especially important days, the life-guard accompanied the Grikkjakonungr varying distances along the route to whichever church he had determined to visit. On regular days, designated members stood by the Greek King for the entire service. On this particular day, Halfdan was not in such immediate attendance and had ventured into one of the upper galleries of the Great Church, which the Greeks called Hagia Sophia. When he had first seen the inside of the building he had thought it afire, but somehow its air was cooler than in the courtyards outside and he reflected that there could not be that much fuel in the whole world to burn so long and so brightly anyway. The roof blocked out the heavens, yet seemed to trap the sun inside. Within, the captive rays blinded and bounced oddly off the walls so that even after many visits, Halfdan could not describe quite what the building looked like nor trace its floor-plan.

If not for a trick of the light he might have missed his name, but glancing up, near the top of the sloping ceiling he read: HALFDAN scratched in unhurried, if rather crooked, runes. It was hard to tell how long they had been there, since they were not open to the weather as most rune stones he knew from home were. Perhaps this Halfdan had lived and died in the days of his great-grandfather. Perhaps he was still at large, wandering the city’s many side streets and back alleys, which confused Halfdan with their labyrinthine twists and turns. Miklagard was far grander than any settlement he had visited before, but he had no love for its crowded, covered backstreets and throngs of hurried people. Give him a good straightforward battle any day—the city was already too much to look at and focus on without watching for street brawls behind every crumbling tenement.

Standing somewhat idle, though alert to any possible threat to the Grikkjakonungr or his family, Halfdan gazed at the rough runes somewhat above his head. Through the clouds of dust motes, billowing in the midmorning shafts of light, they seemed to take on a life of their own. He speculated that their carver could even have been the Halfdan, the very first Halfdanr gamli, from whom nearly every great hero of the past and king of the present was descended. Halfdan wondered if such a legendary man would have felt dwarfed by the size and excess of Miklagard as well. He doubted the runes actually belonged to the Halfdan of myth, but felt an inexplicable swell of pride every time he entered the Great Church thereafter.

A compatriot from Holmgard, who had traded in Miklagard before, rendered the name of the Great Church as Heilagr fróðleikr: “Holy Knowledge,” though Halfdan was not persuaded this captured either the words themselves, or the weight they conveyed for the city’s residents. Halfdan was rapidly learning words and phrases in Greek, but the abstract terms largely escaped him, along with most of the faith. He had heard of the Greek King’s religion in Kiev, and recognized holy pendants and cross-shaped containers from his travels through Rus. He was now familiar with the immense domed buildings that dotted the landscape, yet were themselves dwarfed individually by the sheer number of structures stretching away to all sides. Or, as familiar as one could be, for he was still convinced some team of Jotnar was responsible for their construction. He suspected the same of some of the statues and columns scattered around the city, as, he was told, did a good many Greeks, who even had guidebooks for the subject, though none he could read. Halfdan was curious, to a point, about the god such buildings belonged to (or possibly three gods, or possibly more if saints were considered). However, it was not his faith, and he was far from certain it would ever be.

On the nights after suitably important holy days and their corresponding feasts, the entire guard ate from the Grikkjakonungr’s table itself. Halfdan could still taste the oily flavors on the back of his tongue. Olive oil was a novel development; it permeated everything consumed in Miklagard and left his fingers greasy. Halfdan had seen the amphorae both oil and wine (which he liked quite a bit better) were stored and transported in throughout the Rus, but by that point they tended to be broken, or at least empty. Fish was decidedly less novel. Halfdan ate plenty at home, of course, and all along the waterways from Sweden to Kiev. He had eaten it in various states of preservation or fermentation, but never completely liquid. He was not entirely sure what to make of the so-called fish sauce. Or leeks, for that matter. However, Halfdan appreciated the festival spirit, whichever god or gods it honored, and learned to enjoy the leeks.

Brigid Ehrmantraut

Halfdan

The Halfdan inscription, Hagia Sophia. Wikimedia Commons

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Summer Sequel: Three Roads to Miklagård

Brigid Ehrmantraut from Princeton University has been generous to offer her recent essay on Scandinavian mercenaries in Constantinople as a reading feuilleton for the Nordic Byzantine Network. Before we do so, we are happy to have Brigid’s attention for a few questions.

19030570_1893688160893584_4989903031293527064_n.jpgWhat background do you have?

I am an undergraduate Classics concentrator and Medieval studies certificate at Princeton University. In addition, I’ve studied abroad for a spring at the University of Cambridge’s Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic department.

You are both a historian and a writer of fiction; which interest came first?

I think both interests developed at roughly the same time, in an intertwined fashion. Stories have always fascinated me, regardless of how ostensibly true they may be, and I think the best fiction tends to build from strong historical foundations, be they real-world settings or imagined chronologies.

Do you find it particularly challenging to bridge the two roles in cases such as this?

I think the two complement each other nicely. It’s always important for a project like this one to give preference to the historical features, but since so many of those come to us from primary accounts – each with their own unique perspectives and biases – I think historical details and sources inspire rather than limit creativity. This piece came out of a class prompt to engage in ethopoeia, or the Greek term for rhetorically representing another person or character, and the engagement with different perspectives that allowed provided a wonderful way to supplement established historical material, while grounding the fictional aspects against a believable backdrop.

Which scholarly aspect of the Varangians in Byzantium interests you most?

The opportunities for cultural interchange. One of my favorite features of Classics and Medieval Studies is the degree to which you get to study evolving interaction between all areas of culture; one of my particular interests is religious/mythological syncretism.

Are there any literary depictions of the same topic that you find especially recommendable?

I haven’t come across many contemporary literary depictions of the Varangians, but I would always recommend saga material! Anna Comnena’s Alexiad occasionally engages with them as well, and certainly presents its nominally historical account in very dramatic, literary prose.

To which topic will you devote yourself in the nearest future?

Probably religious syncretism in the late antique and early medieval insular world, specifically between Celtic, Roman, and eventually Anglo-Saxon populations in Britain and Ireland.

Interview: OH

The NBN will publish the three parts of Þrír Vegir í Miklagarð (Three Roads to Miklagard), with approximately ten-day intervals over the course of  July 2017.

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Workshop on Religious Poetry and Performance at Uppsala University

The end of May was a busy and exciting time for byzantinists in and around Uppsala. From 18-21 May, the university hosted the big conference on spatialities of Byzantine culture (see below), organised by Myrto Veikou and Ingela Nilsson. The conference was followed by a smaller scale workshop on religious poetry and performance in Byzantium, organised by post doc Uffe Holmsgaard Eriksen. It took place from 23-24 May at Uppsala University. The close proximity of the conference and the workshop was due to the fact that several scholars were able to participate in both events.

The aim of the workshop was to gather specialists in the fields of theatre and performance studies, musicology, hymnography and hagiography in order to come closer to an understanding of how religious texts were performed in the Byzantine society. The speakers were Spyridon Antonopoulos (City, University of London), Thomas Arentzen (Oslo University), Mary Cunningham (Em. Nottingham University) Uffe Holmsgaard Eriksen (Uppsala University), Derek Krueger (University of North Carolina at Greensboro), Alexander Lingas (City, University of London), Margaret Mullett (Em. University of Belfast and Dumbarton Oaks), Przemyslaw Marciniak (University of Katowice), Fr. Damaskinos Olkinuora (University of Eastern Finland), Christian Troelsgård (University of Copenhagen), Julie Van Pelt (University of Ghent) and Andrew Walker White (Stratford University).

Besides the speakers, the workshop was visited by among others Helena Bodin (University of Stockholm) and Stig Frøyshov (University of Oslo). Also participating in the workshop was the choir Psaltikon (http://www.psaltikon.org/about-psaltikon/). The choir performed a concert at the end of the workshop with hymns transcribed from medieval manuscripts.

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Przemyslaw Marciniak (Katowice) presenting on Byzantium as a ”performative society”

Although it is difficult to determine exactly how hymns and hagiographical texts were performed, the workshop offered several perspectives on the performance. Przemyslaw Marciniak gave a broader view on Byzantium as a ”performative society”, and Andrew White took the participants back to a classroom in medieval Byzantium to reflect on how commentaries on tragedies (scholia) actually contain performance indications. Julie Van Pelt and Christian Troelsgård both focused on hagiography, Van Pelt especially on performances by cross-dressers, and Troelsgård on how hymnographers turned hagiography into short hymns for the saint’s feast day. Thomas Arentzen explored the quite erotic texts for Holy Week in 6th century Constantinople, whereas Margaret Mullett looked closer at the resurrection narrative in the 12th century Christos Paschon. In different ways, Alexander Lingas, Derek Krueger, and Spyridon Antonopoulos looked at various ways in which Byzantine clerics and manuscripts gave instructions for singers. Finally, Uffe Holmsgaard Eriksen introduced to his post doc project on performance and participation in Byzantine liturgy and focused on the pun as oral performance in the kontakia of Romanos the Melodist.

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Andrew White teaches how to pronounce certain words with passion and emotion according to the Byzantine scholiasts

As mentioned earlier, the workshop concluded with a concert sung by the choir Psaltikon. The choir is founded by Spyridon Antonopoulos who is also the director of the choir, which has its base in Boston. For the concert, he had transcribed several medieval hymns, among them a stanza from a kontakion of Romanos the Melodist. The repertoire also included hymns for the festal season, that is hymns from Easter, Ascension Day and Pentecost. The concert took place in the magnificent Anatomical Theatre at Museum Gustavianum. Both the singers and the audience were surprised by the amazing ambience in the theatre – the voices intermingled and the overtones blended perfectly. The choir also gave concerts the following days in Stockholm and Copenhagen, thanks to a donation from the Carlsberg Foundation in Denmark.

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The choir Psaltikon singing in the Anatomical Theatre in Gustavianum. Clockwise from right: Alexander Lingas, Fr. Damaskinos Olkinuora, Dimos Papatzalakis, Spyridon Antonopoulos, Vasileios Lioutas, Haralambos Hamos and Uffe Holmsgaard Eriksen (photo: Myrto Veikou)

All in all, the workshop on religious poetry and performance in Byzantium was an important step towards getting a deeper understanding of different kinds of performances and their contexts. It also provided the foundation for a continued scholarly dialogue. All of this was made possible thanks to a generous grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (http://www.rj.se/).

Uffe Holmsgaard Eriksen

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From the Human Body to the Universe… Spatialities of Byzantine Culture

This international conference was organized by the Department of Linguistics and Philology of Uppsala University, as part of the Research Project “Text and narrative in Byzantium” lead by Professor Ingela Nilsson (http://www.grekiska.net/byzantine-narrative/). It was hosted by the Museum Gustavianum, from the 18th to the 21st of May, 2017, and sponsored by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.

The conference began with Professor Ingela Nilsson’s welcome and scholarly contextualization followed by a keynote lecture by Professor Johannes Koder (University of Vienna) on the relation between space and identity, and Byzantine conceptions of geographic belonging. Thereafter, a visit to Olof Rudbeck’s Anatomical Theatre, guided by Dr Myrto Veikou, offered the participants an opportunity to realize how spaces make people feel, think and act in specific ways. The great importance of this in Byzantine culture – no matter what aspect someone is looking at (material culture, art or texts) – was the main field of inter- and cross-disciplinary problematization during the conference proceedings on the next three full days.

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A total of fourty-three papers on Byzantine spaces were presented by specialists on Byzantine philology and literary studies, history, archaeology, topography, and history of art. Different aspects of notions of space in Byzantine culture were scrutinized and discussed, thereby offering an excellent opportunity for experimentation. The process of inter- and cross-disciplinary problematization on the single common interest of Byzantine spaces aimed to allow these specialists realizing the – often plasmatic – dichotomies between modern fields of research. It also aimed to develop the field, and provide future scholars with:

  • an, as much as possible, complete range of vocabulary and available methodologies for looking into Byzantine spaces, and
  • an example of creative and reconciliating synthesis of different, old and new, theoretical approaches to spatial issues.

In this context, many interesting discussions foregrounded the parallel existence of two different currants of research within the Byzantine studies, nowadays. These two currents develop concurrently on parallel yet separate trajectories, they are based on different theoretical and methodological backgrounds, and they use different vocabularies. Giving the floor for these two currents to meet up and discuss a single cultural topic of common interest allowed exposing each side’s work to one-another. This condition first produced some confusing – or ‘conflictual’ – reactions but later delivered very imaginative and creative solution plans; in any case, it exposed the problem, and the urgency for mutual comprehension, as well as the potential of informed collaboration from both sides.

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The event will be followed by a publication project which will take place during the next few years. Information on this project, as well as on the conference program and speakers’ abstracts, including several resources on the topic, can be found on the project’s webpage (http://www.byzantinespace.net). Anyone interested in knowing more about it or contributing to it may contact Professor Ingela Nilsson and Dr Myrto Veikou at the Department of Linguistics and Philology of Uppsala University.

Myrto Veikou

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