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Anna Komnene The Life and Work of a Medieval Historian Synopsis

Byzantine princess Anna Komnene is known for two things: plotting to murder her brother to usurp the throne, and writing the Alexiad, an epic history of her father Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118) that is a key historical source for the era of the First Crusade. Anna Komnene: the Life and Work of a Medieval Historian investigates the relationship between Anna's self-presentation in the Alexiad and the story of her bloodthirsty ambition. It begins by asking why women did not write history in Anna's society, what cultural rules Anna broke by doing so, and how Anna tried to respond to those challenges in her writing. Many of the idiosyncrasies and surprises of Anna's Alexiad are driven by her efforts to be perceived as both a good historian and a good woman. These new interpretations of Anna's authorial persona then spark a thorough re-thinking of the standard story which defines Anna's life by the failure of her supposed political ambitions. The second half of this work reviews the medieval sources with fresh eyes and re-establishes Anna's primary identity as an author and intellectual rather than as a failed conspirator.

Anna Komnene The Life and Work of a Medieval Historian Press Reviews

Neville's gendered reading of Anna's work has indeed been long overdue. * Averil Cameron, Common Knowledge * Leonora Neville's highly readable book gives us a new Anna for the twenty-first century, and dissects why we have misunderstood her for so long. A major contribution to the history of gender and scholarly reception as well as to that of Byzantium, Neville shows just how much we thought was true is nothing of the sort. The already lively field of Byzantine studies is set to become more so. * Mark Whittow, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford * Anna Komnene is known as a historian of the first Crusade and as a fawning admirer of her father, Emperor Alexios I Komnenos. Leonora Neville's brilliant study exposes the gendered logic of Anna's narrative and for the first time gives us a true sense of the historian and her craft. * Dimitris Krallis, Simon Fraser University * In this novel gendered account of Anna Komnene's Alexiad, Leonora Neville presents the Byzantine princess in a completely new light. Analyzing the tensions inherent in being a female historian, she disentangles the author from centuries of condemnation. A brilliant, convincing reconsideration that returns Anna to her great originality. * Judith Herrin, King's College London * So deeply ingrained is the narrative of Anna's treason that, although it hangs by the slenderest thread, no Byzantinist until now has dared to challenge it. In her courageous revisionist history, Leonora Neville finally does so. A princess who presumed to write military history, Anna has long remained a baffling, anomalous figure. It is only now that her valour, as well as her vulnerability, comes into clear focus. * Barbara Newman, London Review of Books *

Book Information

ISBN: 9780190939892
Publication date: 15th November 2018
Author: Leonora (John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Professor of Byzantine History, John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Professor of Byzantine Neville
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 256 pages
Categories: Early history: c 500 to c 1450/1500, Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700,

About Leonora (John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Professor of Byzantine History, John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Professor of Byzantine Neville

Leonora Neville is the John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Professor of Byzantine History at the University of Wisconsin Madison and author most recently of Heroes and Romans in Twelfth-Century Byzantium.

More About Leonora (John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Professor of Byzantine History, John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Professor of Byzantine Neville

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