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

715 Muirhead Tower
Thursday 5 December 2019 (10:30-19:30)

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.

Registration for the workshop is free.


10.30 -11.00: Registration and coffee

11.00: Welcome

11.10: Opening remarks

11.20 -12.40:  Panel 1: Perceptions, Reflections and Authority

Chair: Laura Clarke

 “The male gaze in Drosilla and Charikles (c.1150)” – Ewan Short (University of Cardiff) and Emma Huig (University of Amsterdam)

 “Locating the schism in medieval Greek and Western romances” – Katherine Kelaidis (Loyola University Chicago/ National Hellenic Museum)

 “Narrating Medea: The narrator’s judgement on adultery and infanticide in Middle High German and Byzantine adaptations of the Roman de Troie” – Lilli Hölzlhammer (Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich)

 “Identity, inversion and the literary frontier in Byzantine romance” – Stephanie Novasio (University of Birmingham)

12.40-13.40: Lunch

13.40-14.40: Panel 2: Relationships and Hierarchy

Chair: Curtis Lisle

 “The representation of the Other in the Palaeologan romance: rivals, opponents and competitors” – Zisis Ainalis (University of the Aegean)

 “Ethnic identities and political terminology in the Byzantine texts of the 13th century: historiography vs romance?” – Nafsika Vassilopoulou (University of the Aegean)

 “Marriage in Metochites’ Περὶ Παιδείας and in Βέλθανδρος και Χρυσάντζα. A means of social stability or one of social mobility?” – Konstantinos Karatolios (University of the Aegean)

14.40-15.00.: coffee

15.00-16.00: Panel 3: (De)constructing the “Other”

Chair: Stephanie Novasio

““Is he alive, the one who was killed by the magic art?”: an episode of magic in Livistros and Rodamni” – Laura Clarke (University of Birmingham)

 “Reimagining East in Byzantine romance” – Zoi Kokka (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)

 ““He who makes a beast out of himself gets ride of the pain of being a man”: Environmental agency and identity in Digenes Akritas” – Curtis Lisle (University of Birmingham)

16.00: Closing Remarks


17.15: Keynote lecture: “Approaches to the Byzantine novel” – Professor Elizabeth Jeffreys (University of Oxford)

18.30: Wine reception

19.30: Conference dinner


Organisers: Stephanie Novasio and Curtis Lisle

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