45th Annual Byzantine Studies Conference

Conference Date: Oct 17, 2019–Oct 20, 2019 Location: University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States, Madison, WI

Byzantine Animal Studies: Texts, Contexts, Methodologies

While the studies on animals in Antiquity and Western Middle Ages are currently flourishing and even are considered to be one of the most thriving fields of classics - there is a lack of similar studies on the Byzantine period. No single, comprehensive monograph of animals in Byzantium exists and the bibliography on Byzantine animals is still rather paltry.

Byzantine interest in animals was not restricted to encyclopedias and treatises about animals but was also expressed in narrative texts that stood between the real and the imaginary - including enkomia of pets, pseudo-scholarly treatises on insects - and visual sources However, until today, the available sources – both literary and visual – were either ignored or read in a positivistic manner, to establish by whom and in what capacity animals were mentioned.

Therefore, this session of papers will address issues regarding Byzantine animal studies, focusing in particular on how studying nonhuman animals and their imagery in Byzantine literature can help us understand how the Byzantines employed “animal discourse” to convey messages of social, cultural, and political content.