It is often observed that “Byzantium,” as a state and culture distinct from the Roman Empire, was an invention of Renaissance and early modern scholarship. From the historical corpus of Hieronymus Wolf to the lexical work of Charles Du Cange, the achievements of early modern scholars are familiar landmarks in the story of Byzantine studies’ emergence as a discipline. Yet key questions about this early modern “invention” of Byzantium remain understudied. What did “Byzantine” mean—as a term, a concept, and a category—to early modern scholars and their audiences? Where and how did European intellectuals acquire texts and objects that we would now define as “Byzantine”? How did contemporary political, religious, and cultural currents shape their engagements with Byzantine materials? And how does the historical context of Byzantium’s emergence continue to influence Byzantine studies today?
“The Invention of Byzantine Studies in Early Modern Europe” addresses these questions and others over two days of lectures and panels. This conference brings together a range of senior scholars, early career researchers, and advanced graduate students from across disciplines—including early modernists, medievalists, Byzantinists, and scholars of history, art, and literature—to evaluate the study of Byzantium in early modern Europe, and explore new approaches to this burgeoning field of research. It begins at 5:00 PM on October 26, 2017, with a keynote address by Professor Anthony Grafton (Princeton University), and continues on October 27 with a day of panels (9:00 AM to 5:30 PM). All events will be held in the Thompson Room of the Barker Center at Harvard University (12 Quincy St., Cambridge, Massachusetts).
Attendees are requested to register on the website; registration is free.