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The chapter focuses on Manuel's reign in Thessalonike between 1382–87. It is argued that in contrast to his earlier despotate in Thessalonike, Manuel established a separatist reign that was in rebellion with Constantinople. Topics discussed include the siege of Thessalonike by the Ottomans, the emergence of Manuel's literary networks, the literary features of his letters from the period, his chief characteristics as a ruler and his intimate friendship with Demetrios Kydones. It is argued that Manuel's taxation policies further alienated the citizens from his cause, while his reign in Thessalonike also witnessed to his early clashes with ecclesiastics. Manuel's stance towards the Ottoman siege of Thessalonike receives special attention; it is argued that his refusal to surrender the city partially stemmed from his desire to save face. In the chapter, Manuel's Discourse to Thessalonians is analysed with regards to its political messages, literary features and reliance on Aristotelian ethics.
This chapter chiefly deals with Manuel's ethico-political works, his Foundations of Imperial Conduct and the Seven Ethico-Political Orations. They are analysed with regard to the emperor's ethico-political thought, his reliance on Aristotelian ethics, his self-representation and the political messages he embedded into these works. Manuel's literary network, manuscripts and his collaborations with the literati are further investigated, while panegyrics and other works addressed to the emperor receive attention. In this regard, the emperor's reactions to praise and criticism are examined, offering an insight into his personality. The chapter ends with a discussion of the political situation between the years 1416–21 and an analysis of the political differences between Manuel and his son John VIII.
Chapter 3 reviews what we know about ancient literary and literate practices and what some scholars term “book culture.” Using testimony from Greek and Latin writers, this chapter provides a concrete description of how one was trained to read and write in the ancient Mediterranean world and how literacy was attained. The theorizations of Pierre Bourdieu on habitus and fields helps articulate how a Greco-Roman writer could possess and represent a number of different interests, social influences, and skill sets, and how we might more fruitfully describe this kind of knowledge in our scholarship. Philo of Alexandria serves as a case study for this new approach as a writer interested in a number of overlapping subjects, including religion, philosophy, politics, and texts.
Conventional approaches to the Synoptic gospels argue that the gospel authors acted as literate spokespersons for their religious communities. Whether described as documenting intra-group 'oral traditions' or preserving the collective perspectives of their fellow Christ-followers, these writers are treated as something akin to the Romantic poet speaking for their Volk - a questionable framework inherited from nineteenth-century German Romanticism. In this book, Robyn Faith Walsh argues that the Synoptic gospels were written by elite cultural producers working within a dynamic cadre of literate specialists, including persons who may or may not have been professed Christians. Comparing a range of ancient literature, her ground-breaking study demonstrates that the gospels are creative works produced by educated elites interested in Judean teachings, practices, and paradoxographical subjects in the aftermath of the Jewish War and in dialogue with the literature of their age. Walsh's study thus bridges the artificial divide between research on the Synoptic gospels and Classics.
This is the first general book on Greek and Latin letter-writing in Late Antiquity (300–600 CE). Allen and Neil examine early Christian Greek and Latin literary letters, their nature and function and the mechanics of their production and dissemination. They examine the exchange of Episcopal, monastic and imperial letters between men, and the gifts that accompanied them, and the rarer phenomenon of letter exchanges with imperial and aristocratic women. They also look at the transmission of letter-collections and what they can tell us about friendships and other social networks between the powerful elites who were the literary letter-writers of the fourth to sixth centuries. The volume gives a broad context to late-antique literary letter-writing in Greek and Latin in its various manifestations: political, ecclesiastical, practical and social. In the process, the differences between 'pagan' and Christian letter-writing are shown to be not as great as has previously been supposed.
Partly due to their British colonial education, many writers were lured to the postwar metropolis to find publishers and a wider audience for their work. This chapter discusses the contradictory stances of the publishing industry in the 1950s and 1960s. It traces the interactions between editors, audiences, and other cultural networks that made London an international publishing capital for ‘new’ Commonwealth authors (as they were then known). It was in London that Amos Tutuola or Wilson Harris were first noticed by Faber and Faber, and Sam Selvon’s A Brighter Sun (1952) or George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin (1953) first appeared. This interest soon waned, however, as issues of race, nation, and identity began to dominate, and sharp divisions were apparent, partially due to the myopia of some publishers and the parochial reception of some critics. The chapter also points forwards to the social and political contexts which provoked the vital growth of smaller and more radical publishing houses such as New Beacon (1966) in the 1970s and 1980s.
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