CALL FOR PAPERS

LOST & FOUND
the legacies of greek culture in the global middle ages

The legacies of ancient and Christian Greek culture exerted a powerful influence in western Europe, the Slavic territories, and the Islamic principalities around the Mediterranean rim from the end of antiquity to the fifteenth century, but the transmission of these legacies was neither straightforward nor without difficulty.  From the seventh century onwards, we find intellectuals, theologians, poets, and artists actively discovering, appropriating, and adapting many aspects of Greek literature, medicine, science, and theology to serve their own ends.  This conference examines the channels of transmission that allowed premodern people from western Europe to the Eurasian Stepp to the northern fringe of the Sahara to find the lost legacies of the Greeks, from the industry of the translators who rendered Greek texts into Latin, Arabic, Armenian, and Georgian to the activity of the cultural brokers who travelled back and forth between medieval Europe, Byzantium, and the House of Islam (diplomats, merchants, or soldiers) to the appropriation of Greek cultural objects for the purpose of devotion or as spoils of war.  Interdisciplinary in its approach and expansive in its geographical reach, this conference will consider the impact of Greek learning on medieval theology, medicine, philosophy, law, literature, history, material culture, and the transmission of the classical tradition.    

We welcome papers that consider the following or related questions:

  • What does it mean to speak of “Greek” culture and artefacts in the Middle Ages?  How do we decide what is “Greek”?  How did medieval people understand, receive, and authenticate ideas and artefacts from “Greek” lands?  
  • How did Slavic, western European, Islamic, and other cultures distinguish (if they did) between classical Greek texts, ideas, and artefacts and “Byzantine” (East Roman) ones?  Were classical texts, artefacts, and ideas prized over contemporary ones?  Did perceptions of the relative value of classical and Byzantine texts, ideas, and artefacts differ in different cultures
  • How did Greek ideas, culture, and artefacts travel?  Which items or elements of Greek culture were most likely to be transmitted by diplomats, merchants, monks, crusaders, or mercenaries?  
  • What happened to items and elements from Greek culture when they arrived in a foreign land?  What kinds of translation, mutation, reframing, adoption, and adaptation were they subjected to?  Does reception of these elements in Christian lands differ from their reception in Islamic lands?  Are there features of reception that were common across all cultures? 
  • How did contact with living “Greeks” affect the reception, adoption, and adaptation of elements of Greek culture?  
  • Did the reception of Greek culture provide a means of contact or dissent between Islamic and Christian communities in the Middle Ages?
  • How did non-native Greek speakers learn to read Greek in the Middle Ages?  What resources did they have at their disposal?  How can we measure their level of proficiency?
Please submit an abstract and cover letter with contact information by September 15, 2022 to Center for Medieval Studies, FMH 405B, Fordham University, Bronx, NY 10458, or by email to medievals@fordham.edu, or by fax to 718-817-3987.

Conference location 
Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus, 113 W. 60th St., New York, NY 10023, United States

Conference dates
March 4-5, 2023