The Gustav Karlsson Lecture on Byzantine Studies:
“‘Double, Double, Toil and Trouble’: An Ecofeminist Reading of Witches in the Byzantine Romances”
Speaker: Dr. Adam Goldwyn, University of Uppsala
The Byzantine romances composed between the 13th and 15th centuries each tell the story of a hero and his beloved and their trials and separations before an ultimately happy reunion at the end. In three of these romances, the lovers are variously helped and hindered by a witch who has magical powers over the environment. But who are these witches and how and for whose benefit do they use this power? Recent developments in literary theory, particularly in ecocriticism and ecofeminism, offer a means to better understanding of these romances and their western literary analogues, and an examination of select passages will demonstrate the connection between nature control, femininity, racial otherness and patriarchal oppression in the Byzantine literary imagination.