The representation of readers and reading in Byzantine narrative

We lack a cultural history of reading in Byzantium—not a social history of the material and contextual circumstances of reading and readers (for a first such comprehensive attempt see Cavallo 2006), but rather a history of the representations of the event of reading and the relevant constructions of readerly subjects. Byzantine narratives, especially Byzantine hagiography, are full with reading scenes which indeed describe as well as create proper and improper readers or
listeners. This paper hopes to delineate some of the main preoccupations of these reading scenes in order to create a typology of the figure of the “narratee” (the one to whom a story is addressed); this figure often turns out to be a projection or a persona of the author himself refashioned in such a way so as to fit the expectations of implied readers, defined both by tradition and immediate social circumstance.

Stratis Papaioannou