The Poetics of Christian Performance: Prayer, Liturgy, and their Environments in East and West (5th to 11th Century)


September 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016


Organizers: Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony, Derek Krueger


This interdisciplinary research project explores the performance of prayer, liturgy, and hymns among a variety of Eastern and Western Christian traditions, from the end of Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Focusing on the history and environments of worship shifts the emphasis in the comparative study of Christianity beyond the history of doctrine.


Our timeline extends from the Council of Chalcedon in 451—when the great division between Eastern Christianities took place—to the eleventh century, just before the cultural upheaval brought about by the Cru- sades. Our geographical framework includes Christianity’s religious centers—Pal- estine, Constantinople, and Rome—and margins—East Syria and medieval France. New models of piety, the ways in which people imagined their interaction with the divine, and the rise of asceticism in the late antique Mediterranean world brought forth new conceptions and patterns of worship. Novel religious perfor- mances played a vital role in shaping Christian identities in Byzantium and the Latin West. They encoded a specific poetics as well as theories of how religion should work. Bringing together historians of religion, art, architecture, and music, we focus on religious performance to renarrate the history of Christian religious culture in East and West in its social and intellectual contexts. 


Conference: June 19 - June 21, 2016