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CFP: Studying Byzantium in the interwar years,

17 March 2021

CFP: Studying Byzantium in the interwar years, workshop at the XXIV International Conference of Byzantine Studies, Venice/Padua, August 22–27, 2022
Submissions due March 31, 2021

Byzantine studies have not generally tended to be at the cutting edge of theoretical or methodological innovation. Nevertheless, in recent years, new critical studies of the plural entity that is “Byzantium” and its critical reception throughout the centuries have finally emerged, pinpointing the history of Byzantine studies and its relationship with cultural and geopolitical issues.

The present workshop aims to explore how Byzantine art history has developed at a key moment in European history, during the 1920s and the 1930s, focusing on the individual stories of Byzantine art historians in that period. Formed by pioneers of the field, scholars working on the art of the Eastern Roman Empire during the interwar period pursued their research in a world radically transformed by the First World War. Socio-political events such as the escalating nationalism in Italy and Germany, the collapse of the Russian Empire and the subsequent formation of the Soviet Union and waves of emigration, or as the end of the Μεγάλη Ιδέα in Greece, to cite only few examples, profoundly impacted their activities. At the same time, the restoration of Hagia Sophia under the direction of Thomas Whittemore, the foundation of new scholarly journals dedicated to the field (Byzantion, Seminarium Kondakovianum, Byzantinoslavica, etc.), the first ever international exhibition of Byzantine art (Paris 1931) as well as the raising of an international network of collectors and dealers changed knowledge and access to Byzantine art. 

The workshop intends to explore the theoretical and methodological innovations which emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, and how the latter intertwined with the geopolitical and cultural context of that time. We especially seek short papers deepening the biography of pivotal scholars of Byzantine art and to compare how they approached the discipline in different context, such as in Western and Central Europe, in the United States, and in the USSR. When it comes to émigrés, we are especially interested to understand their impact on the transformation of the field as vectors of different scholarly traditions.

We invite proposals for presentations of 20 mins on ongoing research on Byzantine art historiography, with a focus on individual art historians and their contribution to the field during the Interwar period. We will look into the possibility of publishing the papers from the workshop. Please send a title and short abstract (max. 300 words) of your proposed presentation to the conveners, together with five key words and your affiliation, by March 31, 2021. 

Questions and proposals may be addressed to Francesco Lovino (francescolovino@hotmail.com) and Adrien Palladino (palladino.adrien@gmail.com)

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