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Landscapes of Power

Selected Papers from the XV Oxford University Byzantine Society International Graduate Conference

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Edited By Maximilian Lau, Caterina Franchi and Morgan Di Rodi

This volume contains selected papers from the XV International Graduate Conference, highlighting the latest scholarship from a new generation of Late Antique and Byzantine scholars from around the world. The theme of the conference explored the interaction between power and the natural and human environments of Byzantium, an interaction that is an essential part of the empire’s legacy. This legacy has come down to us through buildings, literature, history and more, and has proved enduring enough to intrigue and fascinate scholars centuries after the fall of Constantinople. From religion and trade at the end of Antiquity, imperial propaganda and diplomacy at the end of the first millennium, to culture and conquest under the Komnenian and Palaeologan dynasties – this volume demonstrates the length and breadth of the forays being made by young academics into the still often undiscovered country of the Late Antique and Byzantine world.
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Preface – Opening Remarks of the XV Conference

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Opening Remarks of the XV Conference

As President of the Oxford University Byzantine Society, I would like to open our 15th International Graduate Conference by welcoming you all to this University city with a few lines of the English poet, William Wordsworth:

And I have feltA presence that disturbs me with the joyOf elevated thoughts; a sense sublimeOf something far more deeply interfused,Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,And the round ocean, and the living air,And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,A motion and a spirit, that impelsAll thinking things, all objects of all thought,And rolls through all things.

This was a man who understood Landscapes of Power, our conference theme. Just as Wordsworth contemplated ruined Tintern abbey as he wrote that poem, so we also spend our energies poring over the ruins of a past age. Together with assessing the landscape that surrounds them and what words come down to us from the minds of long dead men and women, we try to piece together meaning from these relics. Our texts can be unfinished and corrupted, as well as obscure, our authors biased in ways we can barely know, our ruins decayed, our histories barely coherent – and yet from this wrecked landscape still emerges the powerful vision of ‘that something deeply interfused’.

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