In the course of its long self-fashioning, “the West” (later “Europe”) set itself off as a superior alternative to a number of imagined Others, including the infidel world of Islam, the primitive nature of the New World, and even its own regressive past, the Middle Ages. This lecture will explore the unique role that Byzantium played in this process. While it too was identified as the antithesis of an idealized Europe, this was done in a specific way with lasting consequences down to the present. Byzantium was constructed not to be fully an Other, but rather to function as an inversion of the Christian, Roman, and Hellenic ideals that Europe itself aspired to embody even as it appropriated those patrimonies from the eastern empire. It became Europe’s twin evil brother, its internal “Black Mirror.” Once we understand this dynamic, we can chart a new path forward for both scholarly and popular perceptions of the eastern empire that are no longer beholden to western anxieties.
This lecture will take place live on Zoom, followed by a question and answer period. Please register to receive the Zoom link.
REGISTRATION OPENS JANUARY 19, 2024
Sponsored by the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture and Harvard University Standing Committee on Medieval Studies.