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Byzantine Matters

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Description

For many of us, Byzantium remains “byzantine”—obscure, marginal, difficult. Despite the efforts of some recent historians, prejudices still deform popular and scholarly understanding of the Byzantine civilization, often reducing it to a poor relation of Rome and the rest of the classical world. In this book, renowned historian Averil Cameron presents an original and personal view of the challenges and questions facing historians of Byzantium today.

The book explores five major themes, all subjects of controversy. “Absence” asks why Byzantium is routinely passed over, ignored, or relegated to a sphere of its own. “Empire” reinserts Byzantium into modern debates about empire, and discusses the nature of its system and its remarkable longevity. “Hellenism” confronts the question of the “Greekness” of Byzantium, and of the place of Byzantium in modern Greek consciousness. “The Realms of Gold” asks what lessons can be drawn from Byzantine visual art, and “The Very Model of Orthodoxy” challenges existing views of Byzantine Christianity.

Throughout, the book addresses misconceptions about Byzantium, suggests why it is so important to integrate the civilization into wider histories, and lays out why Byzantium should be central to ongoing debates about the relationships between West and East, Christianity and Islam, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, and the ancient and medieval periods. The result is a forthright and compelling call to reconsider the place of Byzantium in Western history and imagination.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 24, 2014 – Cameron, an Oxford professor of Byzantine history and long an influential voice in her field, surveys the state of the discipline and its place in the modern university, addressing both the perceptions of those outside the field and the flashpoints and productive veins of research that predominate within. Marginalized in departments where modern European or, less frequently, classical Greek and Roman history hold sway, Byzantium is "relegated to the sphere of negativity," a pale counterpart to its classical predecessors and lacking the exotic appeal of Arabia or points farther east. In five concise and penetrating essays, Cameron reflects on the approaches and pressing questions in areas ranging from religion to political science to art. She analyzes how closely associated Byzantium is with modern-day Greece and with Orthodox Christianity, seeing greater diversity than is often assumed. Of art, where the impact of Byzantium is perhaps most readily felt in the wider world, she sees a disconnect between how pieces were perceived by their original audiences and what stands out about them now: "ontemporaries often praised the realism of objects when it is their very unfamiliarity and apparent stylization that many modern viewers find attractive." Cameron writes primarily for her colleagues, showing them how they can raise their profiles and thrive in what is necessarily a highly interdisciplinary space.
Byzantine Matters
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  • $17.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: Apr 06, 2014
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Seller: Princeton University Press
  • Print Length: 184 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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