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IMC 2020: Sessions

Session 106: Body and Culture in Byzantium

Monday 6 July 2020, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Shaun Tougher, School of History, Archaeology & Religion, Cardiff University
Paper 106-aOn the Borders of Disability: The Forgotten Children of Byzantium
(Language: English)
Oana Maria Cojocaru, Department of Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies, University of Umea
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Daily Life, Hagiography, Social History
Paper 106-bἍγια ὁδεύοντα: Relic Movement and Power Projection in Medieval Byzantium
(Language: English)
Christopher Sprecher, Institut für Geschichte Universität Regensburg
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Ecclesiastical History, Hagiography, Religious Life
Paper 106-cBordering on Fraud: How One Garment Confounds a Foundation Tenet of the 'Middle Ages'
(Language: English)
Timothy Dawson, Independent Scholar, Leeds
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Daily Life, Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Performance Arts - General

Paper -a:
Byzantine hagiographies and miracle collections provide a wealth of sources for studying disability, since they often include vivid descriptions of afflicted people. Yet children feature less often than adults, and the way they experienced their disability is always left aside. Previous scholarship has been content to focus on descriptions of adult disability, but it has thus become complicit in eliding the experience of a doubly marginal category in Byzantine society (disabled and children). My paper will discuss several such cases of disabled children, seeking to reconstruct the way gender, age, and social status may have influenced their lived experience.

Paper -b:
Much work has been done on the emergence of the cult of saints and the role of relics of various kinds: bones, clothing, and other possessions associated with specific saints and miraculous events. Though historical analyses of the appearance and prevalence of relics abound, and liturgical/theological reflections on the place of relics in Late Antique and medieval Christianity have been published, the ends to which church and state in medieval Byzantium and in neighbouring regions moved and deployed relics in pursuit of political power and urban prestige remains underdiscussed. This paper will briefly trace the history of relic movement via the emergence of feasts of relic translation and gifting, before examining instances from the 9th to 11th centuries in which the movement of relics via procession, gifting, or theft serves as a lens to shed light on relics' role in conferring civic honour and projecting ecclesiastical and political power.

Paper -c:
The concept of there being a 'Middle Ages' is largely founded on one sequence of events that is represented as the 5th-century 'Fall of the Roman Empire'. This idea, and its corrolary, that the entity ruled from Constantinople was somehow 'not really Roman', has come under increasingly vigourous challenge over the lest two decades in some circles, yet seems to retain a hold on Western Medievalists. The falseness of the dichotomy can be demonstrated in a literally material manner by one garment which was central to the ceremonial of the Roman Empire for more than one and a half millennia. Beginning in earlier Antiquity as the toga, it evolved and persisted in use right up to the Ottoman Conquest. The presentation wil involve dressing volunteers from the audience.