New Approaches to Medieval Romance from the Eastern Mediterranean and Beyond, c. 1100-1500

Thursday 5th December 2019 (00:01-23:59)
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In recent decades, the study of medieval romance literature has benefited from the application of new theoretical and methodological approaches, ranging from gender historical perspectives to global and ecocritical theory.

However, in comparison with the still wider body of literature dedicated to western medieval romance, the Byzantine romances remain a relatively under-studied group of texts. Despite clear evidence of intertextuality between the romance literature of Byzantium and other parts of the medieval world, much work remains to be done in order to understand how the romances are situated within their historical, literary, and social contexts, on both the Byzantine and global medieval stage. This workshop aims to examine the value of new historical or literary approaches to these texts, and ultimately consider them from a multidisciplinary perspective. What can new perspectives on the Byzantine romance tell us about the world in which they were created? What can be learned from the theoretical approaches being applied to romance literature from other parts of the medieval world? What links exist between Byzantine romance and romantic texts from other medieval cultures, and what do these reveal about the broader literary and cultural networks of that time?

This workshop will focus on discussion of short papers.  We welcome proposals for papers of ca. 15 minutes investigating the romance from any methodological perspective, and focusing on romances from any part of the medieval world. The romance, here, is defined broadly as encompassing the genres of love poetry and epic stories with romantic elements. The event will take place over one day on Thursday 5 December 2019 at the University of Birmingham.

The workshop will conclude with a keynote lecture from Elizabeth Jeffreys (Oxford), as part of the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies’ annual lecture series.

Please send abstracts of no more than 150 words to by 7 November 2019.

Potential topics for discussion might include, but are not limited to:

  • Comparative/ intertextual approaches to medieval romance
  • Rhetorical techniques in romance literature
  • Global perspectives on medieval romance
  • The romances in their political and religious contexts
  • Social historical approaches to the romance, focusing on themes such as:
    • Gender and sexuality
    • Race/ ethnic identities
    • Marginalisation and (dis)ability