Mary Jaharis Center - Medieval Studies Lecture in Byzantine Studies


Thursday, March 28, 2019, 6:15pm to 7:45pm


Harvard Faculty Club, 20 Quincy Street

Jesse Torgerson (Wesleyan University), Dropping a Medieval Chronicle (and Putting it Back Together): Reading the Byzantine Chronography of Theophanes and George Synkellos through Manuscripts, Maps, and Text Analysis. Co-sponsored by the Committee on Medieval Studies and the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture at Hellenic College Holy Cross.

The co-authored early ninth-century Constantinopolitan Chronography of George the Synkellos and Theophanes the Confessor was a much more daring intellectual project than has been conceded. Opening up the Chronography’s complexity invites both the re-deployment of established methods such as close readings and codicological studies, as well as new “digital” approaches such as text analysis and mapping. This talk will argue that these approaches are not mutually exclusive but both complementary and game-changing for historicized readings of medieval historical texts in general. After outlining an ecumenical approach to the Chronography in particular, I will propose other applications. Beyond a coup for Byzantinsts these methods can rejuvenate study of medieval chronicles in general: they supply a method for rigorous comparative reading and contribute to contemporary debates over historical space and periodization.