2013 Summer Seminar - "Frontiers"
Dates: June 26 to July 4, 2013
The frontier denotes that amorphous border space between what is familiar and what is different, what is of this world and what is of a world beyond. While its very existence implies the demarcation of some border, boundary, or divided line (to use Plato’s term), the “frontier” concept is double-edged, lending itself to all the paradoxes that discourse on the threshold affords. It separates yet unites, bars sight yet reveals, and encompasses both end- and starting-points simultaneously.
The 2013 Mount Menoikeion Summer Seminar posed the frontier (the barrier, the boundary, the borderland, the limen) as the lens through which to deeply examine—and, for our undergraduates, introduce—Byzantine / Modern Greek culture and society. Timios Agios Ioannis Prodromos, a functioning imperial monastery (est. 13th cent) located in the isolated wilderness outside Serres in Greek Makedonia, is uniquely suited to exploration in this vein. Situated on the frontier periphery far removed from cosmopolitan urban centers like Thessaloniki (where our seminar began), the monastery existed and still exists as an island of Orthodoxy floating within the Ottoman Empire and, since 1913, the modern nation of Greece. From the chime of the semantron to the permeable doors of the iconostasis—so many elements of daily life within the monastery walls contribute to a meticulous partitioning, privileging, and mediating of time and space. Such organizational frameworks mirror and figure Christianity’s hierarchical structuring of Heaven, and serve to emphasize the monastery’s role as an arbiter linking the ephemeral and eternal, earthly and divine.
This year’s seminar participants—students, faculty, and administrators representing Hellenic Studies via Art & Archaeology, Classics, History, Religion, Politics, Anthropology, English, Music, and Architecture—stepped out from their disciplinary comfort zones to engage the frontier from rich, integrative points-of-view. We thank the nuns for their hospitality and friendship, and look forward to celebrating the Center for Hellenic Studies’ tenth year on Mount Menoikeion in 2014.
2013 Seminar Participants:
Hellenic Studies Faculty Presentations
Byzantine Architecture in Thessaloniki and at the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos
Slobodan Ćurčić, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Art & Archaeology
An Introduction to the Monastic Typikon of Agios Ioannis Prodromos, Serres
Teresa Shawcross, Assistant Professor, Dept. of History
‘Dislocated States’: History as Palimpsest in Contemporary Greek and Greek-American Poetry
Kathleen Crown, Executive Director, Council of Humanities
Hellenic Studies Grad Student Workshops
The Frontiers of the Byzantine Empire: A Short Overview
Lee Mordechai (History)
Byzantine Icons beyond Byzantine Borders
John Lansdowne (Art & Archaeology)
Prayer, Sacred Song, and Angelic Praise in Judeo-Christian Traditions: An Introduction
Mika Ahuvia (Religion)
Re-Imagining the Self: Religious Conversion in Turkey
Nikos Michailidis (Anthropology)
The Bread of Life: Bread Stamps, prosphora Breads, and Orthodox Rituals across the Centuries
Nadezhda Savova ‘12 (Anthropology)