The Byzness 06/11/16

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The Byzness, 6th November 2016


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MAISON FRANÇAISE D’OXFORD The edition, translation and commentary on Mark the Deacon’s Life of Porphyrios, Monday 7 November 2016, Sutro Room, Trinity College, Oxford at 5pm


The Life, the new edition, and the historical context of Gaza will be discussed by Anna Lampadaridi (IRHT, Paris), Catherine Saliou (EPHE, Paris), and Ine Jacobs (Oxford).

For a poster click here




Byzantium outside Byzantium: Fellow Christians under Muslim Rule – Graduate and Early Career Workshop with Professor Johannes Pahlitzsch, 5pm, 15th November, University College, Oxford,

The Melkites differed very much from the other Christian communities in the Near East under Islamic rule because of their special relation to Byzantium. While this relation was quite ambiguous in the Early Islamic period so that the Melkites developed to a certain extent their own identity as an Arab Orthodox, i.e. Chalcedonian, Church, the situation changed after the Byzantine reconquest of Northern Syria in the second half of the 10th century and the establishment of the doukaton of Antioch. From then on the Melkite Church was increasingly “byzantinised”, especially in the field of liturgy and law.

Independent of this development although not unaffected by it the priority of the ecclesiastical leaders of the Melkite Church was to preserve their community’s separate identity and to guarantee its survival. The problems they faced and the measures they took to achieve these goals as well as the attitude of the common believer will be discussed with regard to the legal collection of the Melkites and Greek and Arabic hagiographical texts about conversion to Islam from the 9th to the 11th centuries.

The workshop will discuss a small selection of sources available in translation, please read these if intending to attend. The sources are found here.



La théologie byzantine: bilan et perspectives, 15 November, Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth,

More details found here.


Conference in Honour of Robert Ousterhout: Constructing Sacred Space, The Universtiy of Pennsylvania, Friday 7th April – Sunday 9th April, 2017

A short message from the committee here.



Reception Histories of the Future: a conference on Byzantinisms, speculative fiction, and the literary heritage of medieval empire, University of Uppsala, April 4-6th 2017


The study of Classical reception in modern speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy) is an old and broad field, with roots in both the academy and the popular press. However, much as Classics is often reluctant to look beyond the temporal borders of the antique world and venture into its medieval Greek imperial successor, the consideration of classical reception in speculative fiction has mostly neglected the significant impact of Byzantium and other post-Roman imperial formations and their literatures on modern SFF. However, many of the central thematic tenets of the literary heritage of medieval empire – including but not limited to decadence, the post-Roman world, the problem of defining barbarian and citizen, and the use of ‘Byzantine’ settings and symbology as codes for the foreign or exotic – have had deep effects on the development of science fiction and fantasy in the 20th and 21st centuries.


This conference aims to bring together some of the most innovative modern writers of speculative fiction with scholars working at the cutting edge of Byzantine reception studies for a two-day discussion of Byzantinism, decadence, empire, and storytelling. The conference will therefore collapse the distance between practitioners and critics, and bring reception studies into a direct dialogue with one of today’s most vibrant genres of popular fiction. Planned activities include public events at local bookstores, presentations of scholarly papers, and group panel discussions between writers and scholars. A post-conference publication will include both essays, academic articles, and commissioned fiction.


Details of the Conference


The conference is organized by AnnaLinden Weller, a postdoctoral researcher in Byzantine Studies,  who writes speculative fiction under the pen name Arkady Martine. It is supported by the “Text and Narrative in Byzantium” project (principal investigator: Professor Ingela Nilsson) within the Department of Linguistics and Philology at Uppsala University. The conference will bring together scholars working on the reception of Byzantium, scholars working on classical reception in speculative fiction, and active writers producing speculative fiction in order to broaden and deepen the consideration of how medieval literatures and Byzantinism have far-reaching impact on the popular imagination. Since speculative fiction is a crucial mode of popular cultural expression of life in the modern and technological world, exploring the significant reception of medieval literatures – a ‘non-technological’ and foreign/distant subject in comparison – within it is of real interest to both the scholarly community and the general public.


There has been substantial recent scholarly interest in the reception of classics (and Classics) in speculative fiction. This interest has come both from the academy (volumes like Rogers, Brett M. and Benjamin Eldon Stevens, eds. 2015. Classical Traditions in Science Fiction. Oxford: Oxford University Press., and Bost-Fiévet, Mélanie and Sandra Provini, eds. 2014. L’Antiquité dans l’imaginaire contemporain: Fantasy, science-fiction, fantastique. Paris: Classiques Garnier) and from the popular SF press (i.e. Liz Gloyn’s “In a Galaxy Far Far Away: On Classical Reception and Science Fiction” in the SF magazine Strange Horizons, available at However, very little work has been done to explore the equally prevalent reception of postclassical Greco-Roman subjects and themes in speculative fiction. This conference aims to bring scholars, writers, and the general public together to investigate medieval imperial receptions – and concepts of Byzantinism – which are deeply embedded in speculative fiction. Recent work on Byzantine reception has examined Byzantinism in contemporary film and art, and explored the reception of Byzantium in Enlightenment and fin-de-siècle literature, but has not addressed the presence of post-Roman themes and ideas in speculative fiction. This conference’s three days of discussion and the subsequent publication of a volume of essays from international scholars and commissioned fiction from leading writers in the speculative fiction genre will contribute to the closure of these gaps.


The thematic elements of post-Roman imperial formations and the literatures which they produced – including but not limited to decadence, the post-Roman world, the problem of defining barbarian and citizen, and the use of ‘Byzantine’ settings and symbology as codes for the foreign or exotic – are of substantial importance to writers of speculative fiction. Byzantium has been an explicit setting in several significant novels (Turtledove’s Videssos cycle, Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sarantine Mosaic) and many of its central thematic tenets — an empire gone decadent, the permeability of frontiers, the creation of an imperial ideology and the survival of that ideology – appear in others: perhaps most intriguingly in Ann Leckie’s recent Hugo and Nebula-award-winning Imperial Radch books, which, while not being specifically Roman or Byzantine, can be interpreted usefully by being viewed through a Byzantine lens. These and other questions of the reception of post-Roman concepts and literatures are what this conference is meant to engage with.


A major aim of this conference is to bring writers and academics – practitioners and analysts – together in innovative ways. While portions of the conference will allow academics to present prepared papers in the traditional format of a short lecture on recent or ongoing with a subsequent question period, the majority of the panels will be themed discussions in which a group of panelists have a public conversation on a pre-arranged topic, guided by a moderator. This method of discussion comes from the world of speculative fiction conferences and produces a focused, vibrant, and wide-ranging exploration of the subject. It is also widely accessible to a popular audience, even when the discussants are specialists. An entire day of the conference will be reserved for this format. Additionally, since there is substantial public engagement with speculative fiction topics — as well as significant public interest in Byzantium – this conference will open up the group panels to the general public on that day, bringing both Byzantium and speculative fiction to the Scandinavian audience in a direct and engaging manner. The public, creative professionals, and academics will all be able to share in the investigation of the effects of Byzantinism on popular culture.


The volume that results from this conference will include both academic articles written by leading reception history scholars, critical essays on Byzantium and medieval empire written by members of the speculative fiction community, and new speculative fiction on Byzantine themes commissioned especially for this project from award-winning and bestselling authors.


Call for Papers (Academic Track) – Deadline February 28, 2017


Please submit an abstract of approximately 300 words which describes research which responds to or contributes to the discussion of Byzantine and post-Roman reception in speculative fiction, to .


Alternately or additionally, suggest topics for group panel discussions which you would be interested in participating in, alongside writers and other creative professionals.


Call for Interest & Panel Topics (Creative Track) – Deadline February 28, 2017


If you are a speculative fiction writer or industry professional who would like to participate in the conference, write to  with your contact details, professional experience, and ideas for panels.


Modulations and transpositions: the contexts and boundaries of ‘minor’ and ‘major’ genres in late antique Christian poetry, Lisbon-Heidelberg, 2017


This is a CFP for a two-part workshop on Christian late antique poetry organized by F. Hadjittofi and A. Lefteratou. The workshop will take place in two installments, in Lisbon in June 2017, and in Heidelberg in December 2017. The publication of a proceedings volume will depend on the quality and coherence of the presentations.


Important dates:

16.01.2017, deadline for up to 300-word abstracts to be submitted to the organizers:  (Fotini Hadjittofi) and  (Anna Lefteratou)

31.01.2017, notification of acceptance

01-02.06.2017, Workshop in Lisbon; Keynote speaker : Prof. Gianfranco Agosti (Sapienza, Università di Roma)

15-16.12.2017, Workshop in Heidelberg; Keynote speaker : Prof. Hartmut Leppin (Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main)


Description: The aim of the workshop is to explore the impact and transformation of classical forms and genres in the Christian poetry of the 4th – 6th centuries CE. We hope to cover both Greek and Latin Christian poetry, and possibly other, classicizing late antique poems, for which the influence of Christian forms or genres can be demonstrated (see, for example, the transformation of tragedy into moralizing, quasi-Christian apologetic epic in Dracontius’ Medea and Orestis tragoedia). As a rough guide, the Lisbon event will deal with small-scale forms (e.g. epigrams, epyllia, and hymns), while the Heidelberg part will concentrate on larger-scale forms (e.g. epic and tragedy).


In music, ‘modulation’ is used to describe the process of changing between the major and the minor keys, while ‘transposition’ is the rewriting of a whole piece onto another key. This might be a good metaphor for thinking about how the Christian poetry of late antiquity breaks free from traditional systems of generic classification. However, just as music keys have a particular mood in them, often culturally constructed, genres too are not only stylistically and thematically defined but their re-construction and reception also depends largely on their cultural milieu.


Eudocia’s hexameter poem on St. Cyprian, for example, could be seen as both a ‘transposition’, in that it renders a prose hagiographical account into heroic hexameters, but also a ‘modulation’ of several ‘major’ genres, with echoes from the Homeric epics, the novel, and philosophical biographies such as Philostratus’ Life of Apollonios. In this case, how does the medium, heroic hexameters, influence the reception of the other, non-hexametrical genres in it? To what degree can epic become yet another form of the Philosophenroman? How easily can a poem like this (as well as other, ‘new’ epic forms, such as the cento, the paraphrase, and allegorical epic) fit under the traditional rubric of ‘epic’, and with what kinds of expectations would its readers approach it, if they did classify it as ‘epic poetry’?


The workshop will attempt to tackle and disentangle, to the degree that this is possible, (some of) the following questions:


  1. Does the metre or genre in which a Christian poem is written influence its reception or interpretation? Do classical genres and metres still evoke an ethos? For example, are iambic metres still associated with invective? How do the various metres of the different poems in Prudentius’ Peristephanon influence our assessment of each poem’s tone and generic affiliation? How are Christian hymns written in hexameters (e.g. Prudentius’ Hymn on the Trinity) different from those written in more unusual metres (e.g. Synesius’ Hymns or the so-called Oxyrhynchus hymn [P. Oxy. XV 1786])?
  2. Were large-scale compositions thought to be more suitable for public performance? Can we detect a connection between genre and the rituals to which these texts may allude? Do small-scale forms and genres suggest a more private or bookish context?
  3. How do the various genres and sub-genres of Christian prose (Gospel, Apocalypsis, homilies, hagiographies, passion narratives) inform the genres of Christian poetry? Do some of these give rise to new genres? How are they identified and received when integrated inside other genres? Are some perceived as more serious or ‘grand’, and perhaps ‘transposed’ more regularly into epic; conversely, do others provide more liberty in the choice of both metre and content?
  4. How are the various stylistic techniques learned in the schools of rhetoric (e.g. prosopopoieia, ekphrasis, encomium) ‘modulated’ when incorporated into Christian poetry? Does their employment within larger- or smaller-scale forms make a difference in how they are received?
  5. When Aratus set the scientific treatise of Eudoxus into verse, he was creating poetry ‘in the second degree’ (Genette [1997] Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree). Do poetic paraphrases of Christian texts work within the same, Hellenistic tradition, and to what extent do Christian poets seem to be aware of this?





Goddess Worship, Marian Veneration and the Female Gender

To compare Marian cult and images to those of ancient goddesses is a well-established route into investigations of Christianity’s holiest female figure. Scholars of the ancient Mediterranean world have also long registered a robust connection between goddesses and social definitions of the female gender. From Briseis, “fair as Aphrodite,” to Hellenistic queens, Roman empresses and ordinary women, numerous studies have explained how female gender roles and qualities were imagined, defined, and articulated through reference to goddesses such as Aphrodite/Venus, Persephone, Demeter/Ceres, and Tyche/Fortuna.


Yet, the implications to the female gender of replacing a pantheon of goddesses with a single female holy figure have not received the attention they deserve. Overall, it seems that the new Christian sacred role model offered a more limited conceptualization of womanhood. Even though Christian devotional practices expanded women’s freedoms in a significant way, scholars of early Christianity have demonstrated that for women the road to holiness was often articulated as “becoming male.” Childbearing — the most central of women’s social roles — was epitomized by a virgin mother, who as has been argued, by being “alone of her sex” remained a poor exemplum for women. At the same time, through the lens of other metrics, it appears that with Christianity women gained more freedoms and authority. Scholars have written on the variety of the ways in which women could freely choose to forsake marriage and family obligations and become “virgins of God.” Others have dealt with the prominent role of purple-born women in philanthropy and religious debates. Finally, an analysis of Roman legislation has revealed that in late antiquity a mother was much better protected by the law.


This panel invites papers that investigate how ideas about the divine shaped notions about the female gender and gender roles. Preference will be given to papers that most closely adhere to the proposed topic. Ideally, the abstracts should approach this question either conceptually (what categories could we deploy to measure the social implications of religious change?) or comparatively (pre-Christian vs. Christian gender roles as expressed in literature, artworks, inscriptions, laws, and the lives of women (free, freed, or slaves). The goal is to open new routes of inquiry into gender and religion in the ancient Mediterranean, and prompt conversations between disciplines.


Abstracts should be submitted as email attachments to by February 24, 2017; the subject line of the email should be “Goddess Worship, Marian Veneration, and the Female Gender”; and the text of the abstract should not mention the name of the author.




Koc University ANAHMED Fellowships at the Research Centre for Anatolian Civilisations

A number of short term and longer term post-doctoral and senior fellowships are now open for applications.


The deadline is December 15th.  For more information click here.




Senior Ancient History position at Tel Aviv University


The Department of General History at Tel Aviv University, Israel, invites applications for a tenure-track position in Ancient History, effective October 2017. Applications will be considered from candidates specializing in any period or aspect of Greek or Roman history, but all things being equal, preference will be given to candidates specializing in some area of the History of the Roman World.


The position requires the ability to conduct independent research in the relevant field. The position also requires teaching in Hebrew, which the successful candidate will be expected to do by the beginning of the second year of employment. Candidates must have received a Ph.D. before filling the position.


Salary and conditions will conform to Tel Aviv University regulations. Appointment procedures will be carried out according to the rules and regulations of Tel Aviv University and are subject to the approval of the University authorities.


Candidates should send their applications, including a CV and samples of publications or other written work, by post or by email, by 15 January 2017, to:

Professor Jonathan Price

Chair, Department of History

Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv 69978, Israel


Three letters of recommendation from senior scholars are to be sent directly this address.

The position is open to all candidates. The appointment will be based on candidate qualifications and the Department’s needs. The Department, the Faculty and Tel Aviv University are not obligated to appoint any of the candidates who apply for the position.






Tenure Track Assistant Professorship in Late Antique Jewish History at the University of California, Irvine


The History Department at the University of California, Irvine, invites applications for a position in the history of Judaism in Late Antiquity. The appointment will be at the rank of Assistant Professor (tenure- track) in the Department of History. The successful candidate will contribute to the History Department’s undergraduate and graduate curriculum, as well as to the development of the Jewish Studies Program at UCI.


Candidates should submit a letter of application that describes research and teaching interests; a current CV; a statement addressing how their past and/or potential contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion will advance UC Irvine’s commitment to inclusive excellence; an article or book chapter not to exceed 50 pages; and three letters of recommendation.


Applications need to be submitted electronically at To ensure full consideration, applications need to be submitted by December 16, 2016.


Questions about the electronic submission procedure should be directed to Marc Kanda ( All other questions about the position should be sent to the chair of the search committee, Professor Matthias Lehmann (


The University of California, Irvine is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer advancing inclusive excellence. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, protected veteran status, or other protected categories covered by the UC nondiscrimination policy. A recipient of an NSF ADVANCE award for gender equity, UCI is responsive to the needs of dual career couples, supports work-life balance through an array of family-friendly policies, and is dedicated to broadening participation in higher education.

To learn more about the department, visit .





Mirela Ivanova

DPhil Candidate in History
President, Oxford University Byzantine Society

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