A Companion to Byzantine Epistolography


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A Companion to Byzantine Epistolography introduces and contextualizes the culture of Byzantine letter-writing from various socio-historical, material and literary angles. While this culture was long regarded as an ivory-tower pastime of intellectual elites, the eighteen essays in this volume, authored by leading experts in the field, show that epistolography had a vital presence in many areas of Byzantine society, literature and art. The chapters offer discussions of different types of letters and intersections with non-epistolary genres, their social functions as media of communication and performance, their representations in visual and narrative genres, and their uses in modern scholarship. The volume thus contributes to a more nuanced understanding of letter-writing in the Byzantine Empire and beyond.

Contributors are: Thomas Johann Bauer, Alexander Beihammer, Floris Bernard, Emmanuel C. Bourbouhakis, Carolina Cupane, Niels Gaul, Cecily J. Hilsdale, Sofia Kotzabassi, Florin Leonte, Divna Manolova, Stratis Papaioannou, Johannes Preiser-Kapeller, Alexander Riehle, Jack Tannous, Lena Wahlgren-Smith.

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Alexander Riehle (Ph.D. 2011, University of Munich) is Assistant Professor of Classics at Harvard University. He has published on Byzantine epistolography and rhetoric, and is currently preparing an edition and translation of the letter-collections of Nikephoros Choumnos.
"This is an important Companion, a landmark". [...] Its authors are the obvious and the best. Some papers are more like handbook articles, some more like essays, but they connect well together perhaps because much of the group is in constant conversation.[...] There is no question that a student approaching the study of Byzantine letters in 2020 with this book in hand could possibly feel alone: it is a true Companion". Margaret Mullet, in The Byzantine Review, 2020.

"This volume aims to fill a gap in the field of Byzantine studies by drawing together over fifteen analyses of various, distinct phenomena relating to Byzantine epistolography. Each study demonstrates engagement with current research trends either by developing insights into longestablished epistolographical themes, such as friendship and friendship networks, or by identifying and introducing more innovative topics like epistolographic performance and rituals of epistolary exchange. [...] the volume delivers a highly comprehensive and engaging range of studies exploring innovative subjects that any astute scholar of middle to late Byzantine history will appreciate". Catherine Rosbrook, in The Classical Review.
List of Figures and Tables
Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Byzantine Epistolography: a Historical and Historiographical Sketch
Alexander Riehle

Part 1: Contexts for Byzantine Epistolography

1 Letter Writing in Antiquity and Early Christianity
Thomas Johann Bauer

2 Syriac Epistolography
Jack Tannous

3 Letter Collections in the Latin West
Lena Wahlgren-Smith

Part 2: Byzantine Letter-Writers in Context

4 Michael Psellos
Floris Bernard

5 The Letters of Demetrios Kydones
Florin Leonte

Part 3: Forms and Functions of Byzantine Epistolography

6 Epistolography and Rhetoric
Sofia Kotzabassi

7 Epistolography and Diplomatics
Alexander Beihammer

8 Didacticism in Byzantine Epistolography
Florin Leonte

9 Epistolography and Philosophy
Divna Manolova

10 Epistolary Culture and Friendship
Emmanuel C. Bourbouhakis

11 Epistolary Communication: Rituals and Codes
Floris Bernard

12 The Epistolographic Self
Stratis Papaioannou

13 The Letter in the Theatron: Epistolary Voice, Character, and Soul (and Their Audience)
Niels Gaul

14 Letters and Letter Exchange in Byzantine Art
Cecily J. Hilsdale

15 Letters in Narrative Literature
Carolina Cupane

Part 4: Byzantine Epistolography and (Post-)Modern Theory

16 Letters and Network Analysis
Johannes Preiser-Kapeller

17 Letters and New Philology
Alexander Riehle

General Bibliography
Scholars and students of the Byzantine world, and anyone interested in the cultural practice and literary genre of letter-writing.
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