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On titles and chapters. Investigations into the nature of patristic and Byzantine literature.

This project further develops our previous research on Byzantine encyclopaedism, which concludes that the term 'encyclopaedia' should be abondoned in favor of that of 'compilation' or 'collection'. This insight will nob we refined in two different ways, none of which having been looked into up to present. The project's first part narrows the focus to a particular kind of compilation literature: theological collections of small chapters or capita grouped into larger entities. This genre is represented by the so-called Capita alia. This compilation is of uncertain authorship: in the manuscript tradition one encounters attributions to John of Karpathos (6th or 7th c.), to Maximus the Confessor (6th-7th c.) as well as to Elias Ekdikos (11th or 12th c.). The project aims to edit, study and compare this text to cognate compilations, focusing on inner structure (how to explain the chapters' seemingly random sequence?), external characteristics and the author's communicative intentions (especially theological and literary). Elaborating upon these insights and those reached in our previous research projects on Byzantine 'encyclopaedism', the project's second part broadens the view and examines how Byzantince authors labeled their own writings and to what extent they incorporated the concept of genre. A database will be created of the technical vocabulary used in the titles of Byzantine works. These data will be confronted with the texts' actual contents, the authors' own statements on the nature of their works, and treatises dealing with the classification of literary production. Seeing the innovative character of this approach to Byzantine compilation literature and genres, the proposed project will not only be able to refine those concepts, but will also offer a theoretical framework, supported by concrete data, for writing a new history of Byzantine literature.
Date:1 Oct 2010 →  30 Sep 2016
Keywords:Byzantine literature, Capita, Elias Ekdidos, Maximus Confessor
Disciplines:Language studies, Literary studies, Theology and religious studies, Historical theory and methodology