Department of History



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Faculty Lecture - December 1, 2016 at 5:30 p.m.

Richard Greenfield (Queen’s University)
Queen's University Club, George Teves Room

'Lost at the Crossroads of the World: Looking for Greece in the History of the Middle Ages.'

While ‘Medieval Greece’ may appear to be a superficially meaningful and perhaps even romantically charged concept, in fact a gaping void lurks beneath it. Standing in what was all too often the no-man’s land where European West met its Eastern others, I argue that most of the region we now know as Greece lacked any significant political or cultural coherence for the great majority of the period embraced by the so-called Middle Ages, itself a primarily Western European frame of reference. Further, the history of the region has long been trapped behind the lens of imagined worlds: Classical Antiquity, Byzantium, the Balkans, the Crusader East, and the Ottoman Empire. As a result the extraordinarily complex history of this Greece has, when not simply ignored, been constructed and re-constructed to fit the paradigms deemed appropriate by modern political agendas and academic fields. My talk examines the history and motivation of some of these constructions as well as new ways to better understand ‘Medieval Greece’ that are, hesitantly, starting to emerge.