Between Lust and Chastity: The Byzantines on Love and Sex
Buenos Aires, 28–29 August 2017
Rivers of ink have flown since A. Kazhdan’s seminal contribution, “Byzantine Hagiography and Sex in the Fifth to Twelfth Century” (1990), including V. Burrus’ The Sex Lives of Saints (2004). Nevertheless, to the best of our knowledge no study to date covers in a comprehensive way divine and human love, the codification of the relation between sexes, the interaction between an avowed morality and the real practice of sexuality. This colloquium aims to put together a number of works tackling these and similar issues.
A historical, anthropological or sociological perspective still has a fair job to do in this area. The UBA research team, with its focus on narratology, will pay special attention to love as a dynamic principle in Byzantine storytelling, either hagiographical, historical, or of other kind. Indeed, the centrality of love, which can take myriad forms (as a topos, as a target towards which a given plot aims, as a powerful tool towards meaningful characterization, as a social expectation horizon, etc.) should be evaluated in the framework of the evolution of narrative forms. We believe that a dynamic analysis of erotic motifs can be so productive for diachronic narrativity as the spatiality, temporality, or the studies of narrators and narratees.
At the same time, any other point of view is welcome: from a presentation on the Song of Songs, to a study of Byzantine marriage; from the love poetry in the Anthology to the apparent desacralization of erotism studied by H.-G. Beck in his Byzantinisches Erotikon; from the ever-lasting reading of the Greek novels to the erotic connotations – or not – of virginity and mystical experience. More metaphorical subjects such as the “love of learning” are also welcome.