STABILITY AND CHANGE AT THE BORDERS OF BYZANTIUM AND BEYOND
September 5th - 13th 2019
The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization (ISACCL), in partnership with the University of Bucharest, the Ovidius University of Constanța, and the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, is organizing the 2nd edition of the School of Byzantine Studies, to be held between September 5thand 13th 2019 in Bucharest and Constanța (in Romania).
Following the success of the previous year’s edition, dedicated to tackling “Byzantine representations in literature, art and history” (2018), the 2019 edition will focus on “Stability and change at the borders of Byzantium and beyond”.
Whether modern scholars have concentrated on the internal evolution of the Byzantine Empire or have attempted to integrate the Byzantine civilization into a broader cultural context, the concepts of stability and change have continually informed scholarly approaches to Byzantine studies over the past two centuries.
While applying the general three-stage pattern of civilizational evolution (emergence, zenith and decline), with a particular attention devoted to the internal particularities of Byzantine society, Arnold Toynbee came to see the Byzantine Empire as an inheritance of the Graeco-Roman world, yet reshaped under the influence of Orthodox Christianity. More recently, Spyros Vryonis expanded upon this line of inquiry, showing that the Byzantine culture made significant inroads into the proximate cultures of the Latin West, the Islamic world, and the Orthodox Slavs, disseminating its core set of values outside of the political frontiers of its Empire. Due to this successful process of dissemination, he argues, the cultural “divide” between the Western and Eastern European civilizations can therefore be rightly called into question.
Moreover, the issue of Byzantium’s cultural heritage permeating the borders of the Empire’s territory and acting as a major influence far beyond them was also analysed by Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga during the 20th century. In identifying the essential influence Byzantine culture had on the development of the arts and civilization of the emerging Romanian princedoms after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Iorga coined the fortunate phrase Byzance après Byzance as a moniker for the entire region, an expression that encompasses the complex processes of the Byzantine civilization’s survival through cultural influence, dissemination and contamination.
Relying on such valuable interpretations of historians, the School of Byzantine Studies will engage participants in a stimulating dialogue attempting to define the borders of Byzantium in a highly dynamic historical context, marked on one side by emergent local literary and philosophical cultures and on the other by the tension of central power radiating from Constantinople. Byzantine Church art and architecture, as present in the Romanian space, will be employed as the principal means of identifying the established cultural models and exchanges that took place at the borders of the Byzantine Empire on the Lower Danube, critically and comparatively analysed in relation with the Balkans and with Asia Minor.
The School of Byzantine Studies will feature a number of scientific lectures from established specialists in a number of subfields of Byzantine Studies (literature, palaeography, history, theology, philosophy, history of art), aiming to impart an advanced knowledge of current research trends and methods to the participants as well as habituate them with various kinds of primary and secondary sources (texts, images, material culture etc.). Those attending will have the opportunity to actively get involved in the proceedings and contribute to the collective debate and discussion through the option of presenting their MA or PhD projects to the assembly.
The participants will also have the opportunity to explore a number of local monuments of post-Byzantine art in Romania, such as the Stavropoleos Monastery, the Old Court (Curtea Veche), the Cotroceni Palace Museum and Mogoșoaia Palace (Bucharest), and archaeological sites in Constanța (the ancient polis of Tomis) and Histria.
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