Lectures/Mar 20, 2019

From Theotokos to Theodora: The Gendered Reception of Byzantium

From Theotokos to Theodora: The Gendered Reception of Byzantium lead image

From Theotokos to Theodora: The Gendered Reception of Byzantium, lecture by Tonje Haugland Sørensen, University of Bergen, Swedish Institute in Istanbul, March 26, 2019, 7:00 pm

In seeking to define Byzantinism, understood as the reception of Byzantium, a traditional conceptualization has been to see Byzantinism as a subgenera of Orientalism as understood by Edward Said. Subsequently Byzantium has been defined as the Other and the opposite of Western European culture. However, the this  paper will ask if this equation of Byzantinism with Orientalism properly captures the ambivalent role Byzantium has had and continues to have in Western imagination. Through focusing on the constant gendered reception of Byzantium through such figures as Empress Theodora, it will instead seek to read the idea of Byzantium not as something apart from the west, but rather an integral part of it. It will focus on the ways art and particularly art’s depiction of female figures have focused on Byzantium as a place of gold, decadence and warnings of female power, and what these images of the Byzantine femme fatale can tell us of the reception of Byzantium.

Tonje Haugland Sørensen is Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies at the University of Bergen. Her interests include visual constructions of the past, theories of collective and cultural memory and the role of images therein, as well as the visual culture of the long 19th Century and the two world wars.

The lecture is part of the SRII 2019 Winter Lecture Series: Women's Voices.

Advance registration required.