Publication details

Space in Edifying Stories: The Case of Anastasios Sinaites

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Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The edifying story, a prolific hagiographical genre, is one of the most concise Byzantine narrative forms. Given its brevity, there is usually not much room left for descriptions of the scenery and places in the stories. Still, the construction and perception of space often play a more important role in this genre than in saints’ lives, because edifying stories, like novels, but unlike saints’ lives, focus on a relatively limited time span, but often extend the narration in space. This paper aims to examine the notion and the function of space in these narratives, while taking the 1st collection by Anastasios Sinaites as case study. The tales are analyzed through the tools of narrative theory, with a particular focus on three concepts relevant for the cultural reality of edifying stories. First, the binary opposition of the profane and the sacred space, strongly present in the monastic literature from the very beginning, but developing in an interesting way in its presentation and function. Second, the concept of liminality, first described by Arnold van Gennep as the state and process of transition from one phase of a transitional ritual and further developed, with a special focus on Christianity and pilgrimage, by Victor and Edith Turner, who also focused on the specifics of sharing a liminoid experience by a group of people (communitas). Third, Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopias. The analysis first demonstrates how these three concepts are carried out in Anastasios’ stories, and then how space, or rather the different representations of it, function as a strong organizational element of the two collections in question.
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