Byzantine women´s visibility in the arts
Piltz, Elisabeth (Uppsala University, Sweden)
21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London (2006): Communication (II.5 Secular Space)
The role and status of women in Byzantium is related to the genus theory of women in medieval societies. Several scholars have already dealt with this problem. Angeliki Laiou has written about gender, society and economy and Aleksander Kazhdan about segregation between men and women in the 12th century. Ioli Kalavrezou has edited the exhibition catalogue of the Life of Byzantine Women, Lynda Garland has treated the Byzantine empresses and Cordula Scholz has written a dissertation about the legal status of Comnene empresses. Ioannis Spatharakis has treated the illuminated portraits in the manuscripts. In my project the artistic representations of women of Byzantium is the point of departure. This material that is partly inspired by Klaus Wessel ́s meticulous analysis in the article on insignia in Reallexikon zur Byzantinischen Kunst 1972 will be systematized and compared with law prescriptions and literary and historical descriptions of women. Women’s selfconception as a mirror of the prevailing ideology in Byzantium will be deduced from these different sources. Charles Diehl in Figures byzantines maintained that women in Byzantium had an extraordinary position and we want to test if this holds for women in general or is confined to certain strata in society.