Lecture by Divna Manolova, titled "A Cosmological History of Human Habitation: Ideas of the Oikoumenē in Late Byzantium"

As part of the IMS Open Lecture Series 2023-2024, on Tuesday, May 21 at 8:30 PM at the Institute for Mediterranean Studies, the Institute will host a lecture by Divna Manolova, researcher of the History of Science and Byzantine Studies at Systèmes de Référence Temps-Espace (SYRTE), titled: "A Cosmological History of Human Habitation: Ideas of the Oikoumenē in Late Byzantium".

This discussion introduces the idea of ‘our inhabited world’ or of ‘our oikoumenē’ and how it was framed in cosmological terms in both late Byzantine and ancient works (texts and diagrams). I will demonstrate how the cosmological definition of the oikoumenē leads its framing as a geographical concept and how the latter, in turn, creates the affordances for historiographical, political and politicized interpretations of the idea of the habitable and inhabited region and regions of the world. My talk also traces where the idea of the oikoumenē is positioned in the curricula of Byzantine schools and by doing so, it questions an idea, persistent in scholarship, according to which the disciplinary boundaries between various domains of knowledge studied in Byzantium are clearly and firmly defined and moreover, coinciding with our observers’ understanding of each discipline’s remit.

Short Bio
Divna Manolova is a researcher of the History of Science and Byzantine Studies currently working at Systèmes de Référence Temps-Espace (SYRTE) at the Observatory of Paris – PSL and at CNRS. She works on theories of space and dimensionality in Byzantine cosmological and astronomical texts and diagrams, and studies the teaching and learning of the astral sciences and philosophy in Palaiologan Byzantium. Divna is a fellow of the MSCA Cofund Fellow of Paris Region Fellowship Program supported by the Paris Region. Her project is entitled DyAs – Lines and Colours: Lunisolar Diagrams in Byzantine Astronomical Manuscripts (9th–15th C). The main research question DyAs seeks to answer is “How do diagrams operate?”, that is, how diagrams encode, organize and structure knowledge. The project focuses on a corpus of lunisolar astronomical diagrams and the theoretical understanding of vision, light and colour underlying their design. Divna is also a member of EIDA – Editing and analysing hIstorical astronomical Diagrams with Artificial intelligence), an interdisciplinary project joining a team of historians of sciences with computer vision researchers who will develop specific algorithms for retrieval and analysis of the historical diagrams. 

Live stream available.