September 17, 2021

How ‘Byzantine’ was the Eighteenth century? New insights on the Christian Orthodox art and architecture of the late Ottoman Empire

Session during the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS), Baltimore, March 31-April 2, 2022.

Organizers: Nikos Magouliotis (ETH Zurich) and Demetra Vogiatzaki (Harvard GSD)

The most common term used to describe Christian Orthodox art and architecture produced in Ottoman territories during the early modern period is “post-byzantine.” While Byzantine elements did persist long after the Fall of Constantinople, the referentiality of the term falls short of the increasing aesthetic variation of architectural monuments, decorative objects and artworks produced by the Christian communities of the Empire. As recent scholarship has highlighted, particularly from the eighteenth century onwards, the eastbound expeditions of missionaries, merchants, diplomats and antiquarians, the establishment of Ottoman embassies in the West, and the privileges granted to the Christian millet had a significant influence on the local culture; from Jerusalem to Istanbul and from Anatolia to the Balkans, regional idioms merged with metropolitan Istanbulite fashions and Western influences.

This session, “How ‘Byzantine’ was the Eighteenth century? New insights on the Christian Orthodox art and architecture of the late Ottoman Empire,” seeks papers that investigate the evolution of the artistic and architectural expression of Eastern Orthodoxy in the long eighteenth century. How cohesive was the aesthetic production of the Christian millet? How did it mirror the contemporaneous intra-confessional collision and coalescence within the Empire? What was the influence of European travelers and Ottoman cosmopolitan elites? Organizers encourage close studies of situated artifacts (i.e. buildings, artworks and devotional objects), itinerant people (such as pilgrims and craftsmen) and objects (from holy relics, to print media) that illustrate or complicate the deviation from the Byzantine tradition. Contributions that seek to challenge or revise the terminology used to describe Christian Orthodox art and architecture in the eighteenth century are particularly welcome.

The deadline for abstracts is 17 September 2021. Contact emails for proposal submissions and questions can be sent to nikolaos.magouliotis@gta.arch.ethz.ch and vogiatzaki@g.harvard.edu

More information and the call for papers for all sessions can be found here.

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