"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Experiencing Byzantium

Recently released by Ashgate, as the eighteenth volume of their series Publications of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies, is a collection of essays edited by Claire Nesbitt and Mark Johnson: Experiencing Byzantium: Papers from the 44th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Newcastle and Durham, April 2011 (Ashgate, 2013), 390pp. This volume contains some well-known name in Orthodox theology as well as Byzantine studies. About this book we are told:
From the reception of imperial ekphraseis in Hagia Sophia to the sounds and smells of the back streets of Constantinople, the sensory perception of Byzantium is an area that lends itself perfectly to an investigation into the experience of the Byzantine world. The theme of experience embraces all aspects of Byzantine studies and the Experiencing Byzantium symposium brought together archaeologists, architects, art historians, historians, musicians and theologians in a common quest to step across the line that divides how we understand and experience the Byzantine world and how the Byzantines themselves perceived the sensual aspects of their empire and also their faith, spirituality, identity and the nature of ‘being’ in Byzantium.

The papers in this volume derive from the 44th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, held for the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies by the University of Newcastle and University of Durham, at Newcastle upon Tyne in April 2011. They are written by a group of international scholars who have crossed disciplinary boundaries to approach an understanding of experience in the Byzantine world.

Contents: Editors' preface; Experiencing Byzantium, Claire Nesbitt and Mark Jackson; Section I Experiencing Art: Things: art and experience in Byzantium, Liz James; Repetition and replication: sacred and secular patterned textiles, Warren T. Woodfin. Section II Experiencing Faith: Experiencing the sacred, Béatrice Caseau; Experiencing the liturgy in Byzantium, Andrew Louth; Different approaches to an early Byzantine monument: Procopius and Ibn Battuta on the church of St John at Ephesos, Nikolas Karydis. Section III Experiencing Landscape: Locating Byzantine monasteries. Spatial considerations and strategies in the rural landscape, Nikolas Bakirtzis; Experiencing politiko: new methodologies for analysing the landscape of a rural Byzantine society, Katie Green; Processing emotion: litanies in Byzantine Constantinople, Vicky Manolopoulou. Section IV Experiencing Ritual: The cross of light: experiencing divine presence in Byzantine Syria, Heather Hunter-Crawley; Experiencing mid-Byzantine mortuary practice: shrouding the dead, Sophie V. Moore. Section V Experiencing Self: How Icelanders experienced Byzantium, real and imagined, Scott Ashley; Experiencing physical beauty in Byzantium: the body and the ideal, Myrto Hatzaki; Experiencing self: how mid-Byzantine historians presented their experience, Dion C. Smythe. Section VI Experiencing Stories: Experiencing the Byzantine text, experiencing the Byzantine tent, Margaret Mullett; Sensing ascension in early Byzantium, Georgia Frank; From Earth to Heaven: the changing musical soundscape of Byzantine liturgy, Alexander Lingas; Index.

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