BNE 515 Theory and Criticism of Literature in Byzantium
This seminar examines Byzantine attitudes to literature through the study of theoretical works (e.g. rhetorical handbooks, commentaries on ancient and medieval texts), and of critical essays on specific texts or authors by Byzantine intellectuals (e.g. Photios, Michael Psellos, Theodore Metochites). At the same time, the seminar examines the Byzantines' notions of poetics, as these take shape in the texts themselves, and through their authors' own poetological statements.
ΑΡΧ 516 Byzantine Icon Theory
The Byzantines' perception of the role of religious art dictated to a great extent the latter's formal characteristics and iconography. Through the study of relevant written sources and the analysis of works of art, the principles that governed the creation of religious images in Byzantium are investigated, and the stages of the theoretical discussion that led to the definition of the role of religious images within the context of Orthodox worship are explored.
BNE 517 Byzantine Literature: Problems of Categorisation
This seminar investigates certain pairs of concepts (literature vs. non-literary texts, vernacular vs. learned language, secular vs. theological literature, prose vs. verse and historiography vs. chronography), and examines the multiple ways of their interrelation. The question whether and how modern models of categorisation can be applied to Byzantine literature is given special emphasis.
BNE 518 Genre Issues
Genre constitutes an important tool in the study, the reception and interpretation of literature. However, Byzantinists have shown little interest in the history and development of the literary genres produced in Byzantium. In the framework of this seminar, issues referring to Byzantine literary genres and their interrelations are thoroughly discussed.
BNE 519 Byzantine Narratives
This seminar examines (through the use of narratological theory) the various narrative techniques and structural devices used by Byzantine authors to construct a narrative. During the seminar students read texts, such as historiographical works, lives of saints, romances and epic narratives. The seminar includes comparisons of Byzantine narratives with respective Western and Eastern medieval works (e.g. French vernacular historiography and hagiography, French and German romance, Arab prose epics and oral story-telling, Persian romances).
BNE 520 Language and Literature
This seminar examines the diachronic changes that medieval Greek went through, and the formation of dialects, as well as the development of the written language, which had to strike a balance between the constantly changing necessities of everyday communication, the ambitions of conservative education and a literature based on antique models. Special emphasis is given to the analysis of a wide range of different linguistic and stylistic levels of the written language.
BNE 521 Performance and Literature
In contrast to other ancient literary genres, drama was not produced in Byzantium. Theatrical elements can be detected in many Byzantine genres, however, such as historiography, chronography, saints' lives, miracle stories and hymnography. In this seminar, the theatrical and performative dimensions of Byzantine literature are examined.
ΙΣΤ 522 Historiography and Historical Thought in Byzantium
In this seminar we investigate, on the one hand, the theories of the Byzantines about their past but we also look into the ideological principles that governed the composition of historiographical texts in Byzantine society. On the other hand, we examine how the Byzantines' own conceptions about their past might have influenced even modern research with regard to the choice of research topics and of hermeneutical models. More generally, we intend to question the limits of our knowledge about issues concerning the political, social, and economic history of Byzantium.
BNE 523 Hagiographical Genres
Hagiographical genres were very popular in Byzantium. The study of these genres not only provides us with valuable information concerning their production, their audiences and literary tastes in Byzantium, but also helps bring to the fore some very interesting texts of high literary value.
BNE 524 Religious Poetry and Hymnography
This seminar focuses on the history and the role of religious and ecclesiastical poetry in the intellectual life of Byzantium. The form and content of this poetry is studied through representative religious and ecclesiastical hymns from the beginning of the Christian era until the end of the Byzantine Empire. Based on selected genres of Byzantine hymnography, we examine the following issues: the origins of this hymnography, the conditions and reasons that led to the development and decline of special forms, as well as the hymnographical production, innovative choices and particularities of well-known poets and melodists.
BNE 525 Byzantine Autobiographical Discourse
This seminar examines the different ways of self-representation in literary and non-literary texts. These different ways are closely connected with specific Byzantine mentalities and the possibilities of conceiving the Self. For the understanding of Byzantine autobiographical writing the investigation into today's conventions that define one's self-image are indispensable.
ΑΡΧ 526 Facets of Reality in Byzantine Art
The Divine Liturgy and public cult, historical events and social problems, daily life and material culture are all aspects of contemporary reality that are reflected in Byzantine art. Their exploration not only reveals the multi-layered symbolism of this art, but also enhances our understanding of its formation processes.
ΑΡΧ 527 Byzantine Architecture: Principles for the Formation and Use of Space
Byzantine architecture shaped spaces, whether interior or exterior, public or private, secular or religious. This seminar examines their formal characteristics not only in relation to the practical needs they were meant to satisfy or the technical expertise available for their creation, but also in association with the world-view, the religious beliefs, the social structures and the political ideology of the Byzantine State and society.
BNE 528 Theory and Aesthetics of Byzantine Music
This seminar introduces students to one of the most inaccessible areas of Byzantine culture. Initially, the various ancient Greek mathematical and philosophical theories on music and harmony are presented as they were received and reformulated by the Byzantines. Next, the theoretical treatises on the art of ecclesiastical chant in Byzantium and the Byzantines' aesthetic notions about music are discussed. Finally, through the examination of Byzantine musical manuscripts, various testimonies in textual sources (e.g. information about instruments and musicians), as well as visual and ethnomusicological material, music in Byzantium inside and outside of liturgical practice are studied.
APX 529 Byzantine 'Secular' Art
It is commonly thought that Byzantine art, architecture included, was a predominantly religious art and that its main purposes were the expression and dissemination of Christian dogma and the consolidation of the position of the Church. Still, works of art with a non-Christian content or character were created throughout the Byzantine millennium, ranging from palaces and public buildings to ivory caskets adorned with mythological themes. It is on the study of such works that the present seminar focuses. Theoretical issues concerning the definition of the term "secular" within the context of a Christianocentric culture will be examined parallel to issues relating to the typology, iconography, function, and reception of secular art in Byzantium.