Lecture: Kirsty Stewart (Oxford University) – Gendered Nature: Depictions of Feminity in Later Byzantine Literature

The Research Training Group "Early Concepts of Man and Nature: Universal, Local, Borrowed" invites to the public lecture on "Gendered Nature: Depictions of Femininity in Later Byzantine Literature" by Kirsty Stewart (Oxford University).

Thursday, 23.01.2014, 18 p.m.
Hegelstr. 59, 55122 Mainz, Room 00-309

In later Byzantine literature, nature plays a key role. Landscapes act as a backdrop to characters and events, plants are used to describe the appearance of the characters, and anthropomorphic animal-characters have adventures of their own. Nature seems to have been a feature of Palaiologan literature across genres, from romance to satire, didactic material and religious texts. This paper will look at the presence of nature in a range of Byzantine literature, namely for the depiction of women. Nature in literature could cover both the positive and negative aspects of the Byzantine idea of women, using physical landscapes, individual plants, and animals, to describe ideal traits or ridicule behaviour considered by male authors to be stereotypical of women. The use of nature in these ways will be shown to draw on earlier Classical and Byzantine practice, but will also be compared to Persian and Western material, if not in terms of ideas on gender, then in terms of more universal concepts of nature.