“A new body of evidence” Franco-British doctoral students’ conference (Association des étudiants du monde byzantin & Oxford University Byzantine Society)

Franco-British doctoral students’ conference (Association des étudiants du monde byzantin & Oxford University Byzantine Society)
Convenors: Lilyana Yordanova, EPHE and Adele Curness,
St John’s College

The Oxford University Byzantine Society and the Association des étudiants du monde byzantin jointly organize a workshop entitled New Bodies of Evidence: Corporality in Byzantine Culture on April 21st, 2018 at the Maison Française d’Oxford. Its aim is to encourage the exchange of research and methodological experiences by bringing together byzantine post-graduates from France and the United Kingdom. As a complementary activity to the annual meetings held by the two associations, the workshop shall provide an unpretentious setting for establishing closer interpersonal relations in the hope of more ambitious collaborative projects in the future.

It’s been exactly thirty years since Peter Brown initiated the debate about the body in Late Antiquity in his publication The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity. The workshop shall try to further the discussion beyond the initial chronological frame and the issue of the flesh. The participants will engage with all aspects of the body in Byzantine culture. The body in its different states and representations, literal and figurative, calls for a multifaceted examination. In Byzantium, the body of the individual, that of society, of the Church, of Christ or of the Emperor, interact and even conflate. Regardless of being dressed or naked, male or female, dead or alive, old or young, the body is always subjected to strategies of normalization and control. A privileged medium for representing the subject, which endures ascetic practices and sickness, punishment and war, the body carries the marks of social status and spirituality to the grave. The body is also animated through gestures, cultural customs and codified performances, from the Divine Liturgy to the bedchamber. Finally, the body, ideal or real, is the subject of representations revealing artistic virtuosity, theological choices or political imaginary.

The body, subject of uneasiness and utopia, offers itself to the scholar as a sanctuary of the senses and as an important witness of the époque’s concerns. Funerary anthropology, codified gestures in the public sphere, penalty and legal sources, understanding of sexual practices are just some of the questions which shall enable young Byzantinists to take on this milestone topic.

More information and programme: www.mfo.cnrs.fr/calendar/conference-a-new-body-of-evidence