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On Being Conquered in Byzantium

Where
Zoom
When
April 16  –  17, 2021
This symposium seeks to better understand both how Byzantines themselves understood being conquered and, as importantly, what being conquered in Byzantium can mean for us now.

Program

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The famous adage that history is written by the victors may have become a truism, but the voices of conquered people have never been fully silenced—rather, we may not have been interested in hearing them. All too often, historiography (by no means limited to Byzantine studies) has focused on great-man histories, impersonal studies of societies, or the “longue durée,” all modes that diminish the importance of subjective individual experiences of people who were not great or who were not men. 

This symposium therefore aims to refocus the collective scholarly gaze of Byzantinists away from the victors in war and toward the vanquished; away from heroes and rulers and toward victims and casualties; away from the political, economic, historical, and social causes of war and toward the personal and subjective experience of it; away from the insistence of dominant voices and toward the recuperation of marginalized ones.

Bringing together twelve specialists in literature, history, art history, and contemporary cultural theory, this symposium seeks to better understand both how Byzantines themselves understood being conquered and, as importantly, what being conquered in Byzantium can mean for us now.

Symposiarch: Adam J. Goldwyn (North Dakota State University)

Speakers

  • Roland Betancourt (University of California, Irvine), “Conquered Things: Omens, Sculptures, and the Imperial Landscape”
  • Emmanuel Bourbouhakis (Princeton University), “A Thing Neither Able to Be Described in Words or Borne in Deed: Re-enacting the Conquest of Thessalonike”
  • Nadia Maria El Cheikh (American University of Beirut), “Arab-Byzantine Wars and the Capture of Byzantine Women”
  • Yılmaz Erdal (Hacettepe University), “Byzantine Warriors at Nicaea: How Do they Differ from the Common People?”
  • Alasdair Grant (University of Edinburgh), “The Wandering Captive’s Letter of Clerical Advocacy (Aichmalotikon)”
  • Adam Kosto (Columbia University), “The Experience of (Re)Conquest in Medieval Iberia”
  • Kiril Petkov (University of Wisconsin, River Falls), “Acculturate to Compete: The South Slavs and the Byzantine Conquest, 10th–12th Centuries”
  • Jake Ransohoff (Harvard University), “The Mass-Blinding of Prisoners of War in Byzantium”
  • Emily L. Spratt (Columbia University), “Eucharistic Imagery and Dissent: The Iconography of Liturgical Discord”
  • Yannis Stouraitis (University of Edinburgh), “Whose War Ethic? Dominant vs. Subaltern Views of Justified Warfare in Byzantium”
The supporters of Leo Phokas the Elder abandon him and seek clemency from Romanos Lekapenos, from the Madrid Skylitzes, 12th century. Biblioteca Nacional de España, Vitr. 26-2, fol. 126r-1.