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Literature and Society in the Reign of Andronikos II Palaiologos: An Examination of the Letter-Collection of Nikephoros Choumnos

Alexander Riehle, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Junior Fellow 2009/10

During my eight months at Dumbarton Oaks, I focused on the elaboration and completion of the first two parts of my tripartite doctoral thesis, which includes basic information about the various collections of letters and their author, and a discussion of the literary aspects of single letters. Furthermore, I collected and arranged data for the third part, which deals with the social and political dimensions of the letters. More specifically, I prepared the following chapters:

  1. a biographical introduction that re-examines and re-evaluates problematic aspects of Nikephoros's life, e.g., his controversy with Theodore Metochites and its (supposed) relationship to Nikephoros's retirement;
  2. a prosopography of the addressees and other persons mentioned in the letters;
  3. a collation of all surviving textual witnesses for the letters;
  4. an examination of the collections focusing on their composition and chronology;
  5. a stylistic analysis of exemplary letters based on Hermogenes' treatise On Ideas.

The excellent library at Dumbarton Oaks provided me with all the resources I needed and allowed me to work quickly and efficiently. More importantly, my dissertation has been enriched during my stay by the constant exchange with other fellows and visiting scholars whose comments and ideas helped me to consider the methodology and contents of my thesis from a fresh perspective.

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