Article

Literary Criticism

Panagiotis A. Agapitos

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199252466.013.0008

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Literary Criticism

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Byzantine texts not only fulfil a wide range of functions within their cultural context of production, but are also carriers of literary meaning. By understanding such a meaning, we can better appreciate Byzantine culture as a whole. Due to a confluence of reasons, however, concerted efforts to apply literary criticism, partly with the support of literary theory, to a literary understanding of the texts written in Byzantium have been made only in the past three decades. The first attempts at literary criticism focused on texts that fit more easily into modern concepts of literature, such as the romances. This article discusses various theories used to study Byzantine literature, and presents indicative examples of studies that have used them. These theories, which range from socio-historical analysis of the texts to thematics, intertextuality, and reader-orientated approaches, can be used by critics interested in the interpretation of Byzantine literature. However, the article argues the importance of interdisciplinarity and theory, together with history as complementary methods in the application of literary criticism to Byzantine texts.

Keywords: Byzantium; literary theory; literary criticism; interdisciplinarity; theory; history; Byzantine literature; thematics; socio-historical analysis; intertextuality

Article.  3845 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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