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Byzantine Edifying Stories: Narratives between Oral and Learned Literature

Marketa Kulhankova, Masaryk University, Summer Fellow 2016–2017

I finished a comparative study on protagonist construction in three collections of stories (History of the Monks in Egypt, Palladius’s Historia Lausiaca, and the Daniel Sketiotes Dossier). I focused on four types of heroes: the desert father, the female fool, the restored sinner, and the fallen ascetic. I explored how heroes are constructed and featured in each collection. I also examined which parts of the stories are emphasized in discourse and how the telling and showing modes are used and combined. I started to research the issue of pseudo-orality in the same genre. My aim is to explore techniques and devices originating in and related to oral tradition (e.g., oral structure, historical present, story incipits, discourse markers, etc.). The second part of the fellowship term was dedicated primarily to collecting secondary bibliography and searching for a promising theoretical framework. The rich collection and resources of the library enabled me not only to study Byzantine material, but also to consult necessary works on modern literary theory such as natural narratology, cognitive narratology, and pragma-narratology.