WCC UK at the Leeds International Medieval Conference 2018


Are you a late antique specialist gearing up for the Leeds International Medieval Conference next week? Then you should know about our two co-sponsored WCC UK panels, both exploring the figure of the late antique empress! These have been organised by Victoria Leonard of the WCC UK in partnership with Julia Hillner, and are cosponsored by the Medieval & Ancient Research Centre, University of Sheffield . The details are as follows:

Session 218
The Late Antique Empress, I: Imperial Women between Court Politics and ‘Barbarian’ Kings
Monday 2 July 2018: 14.15-15.45
Moderator/Chair: Richard Flower, Department of Classics & Ancient History, University of Exeter

-a: Reviewing the Roles of 4th-Century Imperial Women: The Case of Justina – Belinda Washington, Independent Scholar, Edinburgh
-b: Galla Placidia as ‘Human Gold’: Consent and Autonomy in the Early 5th-Century Western Mediterranean – Victoria Leonard, Institute of Classical Studies, University of London
-c: Return of the Confined Empress: The Burial of Verina – Margarita Vallejo-Girvés, Departamento de Historia y Filosofía, Universidad de Alcalá de Henares

This session focuses on case studies that are rarely discussed or in need of reassessment, as they have significant things to tell us about late antique ecclesiastical, military and political developments. Paper -a investigates the changing relationship between state and church through Justina’s role in 4th-century Milan; paper -b asks how a reinterpretation of Galla Placidia’s Visigothic marriage as war captivity affects our understanding of Roman-Barbarian relationships; paper -c explores the rising power of late 5th-century imperial women through the burial of the disgraced Verina by her daughter, Ariadne.

Session 318
The Late Antique Empress, II: How to Read, Write, and View Imperial Women
Monday 2 July 2018: 16.30-18.00
Moderator/Chair: Robin Whelan, Department of History, University of Liverpool

-a: Empress, Interrupted: Writing the Biography of a Late Antique Imperial Woman – Julia Hillner, Department of History, University of Sheffield
-b: Women on the Move: Representations of Imperial Women and Urban Space in Late Antique Rome and Constantinople – Robert Heffron, Department of History, University of Sheffield
-c: Late Antique Empresses and the Queen of Heaven: On the Correlation between Sacred and Secular in the Imagery of a Female Potentate – Maria Lidova, British Museum, London / Wolfson College, University of Oxford

Historical studies on late antique empresses have usually been biographies of well-known empresses or single dynasties. This session – the first of two proposed – offers an interdisciplinary perspective on imperial women’s representation and agency. It explores three methodological approaches to the topic: biography, topography, and iconography. Paper -a assesses the benefits and challenges of the biographical approach in light of gender history, paper -b investigates how the study of public space impacts on our understanding of imperial women’s role at court, paper -c analyses the relationship between the late antique empress’s image and the cult of the Virgin Mary.

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