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University of Silesia in Katowice

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Byzantium Returns to Katowice

26.06.2024 - 11:18 update 05.07.2024 - 10:56
Editors: K.S

The Centre for Byzantine Studies restarts its operation at the University of Silesia. It is a reactivation of the former Centre for Studies on Literature and the Reception of Byzantium, which ceased its operation due to the university reform. The warden of the Centre in its new shape has become Prof. Przemysław Marciniak, Faculty of Humanities.

The Centre’s research subject is the culture and literature of the Byzantine Empire, a state that was the political and cultural continuation of the Roman Empire and Green and Roman traditions.

‘The Byzantine Empire (its people thought of themselves as Romans) lasted for over 1,000 years (300-1453). Interestingly, it has been a victim of pigeonholing since the Middle Ages, precisely from the time when the first Crusaders arrived in Constantinople. Consequently, the Byzantine Empire has become a synonym for unnecessary luxury, and the Byzantines themselves have been portrayed as people sly and lost in pointless theological disputes.’

‘Meanwhile, the Byzantine culture is fascinating,’ says Prof. Przemysław Marciniak. ‘For example, their richness of hilarious texts and invectives that may shock to this day. There are plenty of texts waiting to be studied and published. My colleagues and I will be working on them, too. The scope of our interest will revolve around attempts to recreate the Byzantine approach to nature and animals; Katowice is already a leading hub when it comes to research on this aspect of the Byzantine world.’

When people see the word ‘Byzantium’, they often see ikons and religion. Prof. Przemysław Marciniak explains that such a simplified perception of the Empire is a result of chance – the only remains of the Byzantine Empire are sacral architecture, and the religious heritage (orthodox Christianity) had dominated all the other aspects of the Byzantine culture.  

Although one centre does not make a Byzantine summer, the researchers of the newly established Centre hope to make even the tiniest contribution to dispelling the Empire’s false image.

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