WORKSHOP: Ancient concepts of fiction and narrative in the imperial period and late antiquity

Ancient Concepts of Fiction and Narrative in the Imperial Period and Late Antiquity

Fiction in Transition

Date: 4th February 2022


Participants may access the recordings of this workshop here.

We are delighted to invite you to a one-day online workshop organized by the Novel Echoes ERC-project at Ghent University, as part of the Ghent-Kent-Lille cross-border research programme, taking place on February 4th 2022.


This is the first of a series of three workshops co-organised by the universities of Ghent, Kent, and Lille, organized with the aim of generating new insights on the distinctions between true, false, and plausible narratives in the Mediterranean region 100-700 CE, a period of transition from pluralist polytheism to a Christian Empire and from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. This period saw a flourishing of different kinds of narratives with differing claims to truth. How do such attitudes to truth, fiction, and lies and their interrelationship alter during this period and how is this manifest in the written narratives?


This first workshop explores in particular texts from Late Antiquity as an inflection point for these kinds of concerns. Recent scholarship has done much to encourage a more diverse and productive approach to pagan and Christian literature rather than seeing the two as a strict dichotomy, but more work remains to be done on both the sheer breadth of underexplored texts from this period and the diversity of their engagement with questions of truth and falsehood. This workshop aims to explore this crucial transition period by looking at a variety of works which test the boundaries of such binary periodizations and open up a more nuanced understanding of fiction between and across such diverse narratives.


Please email Claire Rachel Jackson ( and/or Nicolò D’Alconzo ( to register and receive the link for the online workshop.

The poster may be downloaded here.


Programme: (All times given are CET)

9:45-10:00       Introduction

10:00-10:45     Claire Rachel Jackson (Ghent): ‘Fiction, Plausibility, and Miracles in Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Macrina’

10:45-11:30       Rachel Bird (Swansea): ‘From the Divine to the Ridiculous? Narrative Technique and the Suspension of Disbelief in The Life of St Mary of Egypt’

11:30-12:00      Break

12:00-12:45      Jason König (St Andrews): ‘Autopsy and truth in The History of the Monks in Egypt, Palladius’ Lausiac History, and Theodoret’s Religious History’

12:45-14:00      Break

14:00-14:45      Katherine Krauss (Oxford): ‘Fiction in the Historia Apollonii Regis Tyri’

14:45-15:30      Nicola Schmid-Dümmler (Zürich): ‘Revisiting Musaeus and Achilles Tatius: Seductive narratorial voices’

15:30-16:00      Break

16:00-16:45      Julie Van Pelt (Ghent): ‘Journeys Between History and Fiction: the Life of Makarios the Roman’

16:45-17:30      Stephen Trzaskoma (New Hampshire): ‘Praeparatio Martyriologica: Displays of Truth and Novelistic Virtue by Sts. Kerkyra and Romanos’

17:30-18:00      Round up discussion

18:00-19:00      Virtual drinks reception


The next workshop will be organized at the University of Kent on February 25th 2022, with details to be circulated in the near future.

The workshop series is organized by Ruth Webb (Lille), Anne Alwis (Kent), and Koen De Temmerman (Ghent), with funding generously provided by the 3i research fund of the University of Lille.

Conference: Enchanted reception: Religion and the supernatural in medieval Troy narratives 

Enchanted reception: Religion and the supernatural in medieval Troy narratives  


Date: Thursday-Friday, 3-4 June 2021

Organizer:  Novel Echoes: Tine Scheijnen and Ellen Söderblom Saarela

Registrations have now closed.

Participants can join via this page:

Enchanted Reception is a two-day workshop with the aim of exploring the place of enchantment, myth, and religion in both Eastern and Western medieval narratives about Troy, or narratives that are influenced by motifs related or parallel to the narrative of the Trojan war. Together with scholars specialising in the different language traditions of medieval literature, we aim to explore the following questions from a transnational approach:

•    How did contemporary (e.g. literary and socio-cultural) developments influence medieval adaptations of the supernatural and pagan religion in medieval Troy narratives?
•    What role does the Troy motif play in other literary works?
•    How are rationalization and “Christianization” used to deal with the medieval unease evoked by certain aspects of ancient mythology?
•    From a comparative perspective, how can we map such processes transnationally, e.g. in the different language and literature traditions of the medieval world?
•    How do these questions engage with themes such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity and cross-cultural connections?

Day 1

13.30    13.45    Welcome (Koen De Temmerman)


Session 1          Enchanting Amazons

Chair: Adam Goldwyn

13.45     14.15     Ellen Söderblom Saarela (Ghent University)

Amazoneises, puceles corteises”: Interpreting the Amazon’s Place in Courtly Romance

14.15     14.45     Hilke Hoogenboom (Leiden University)

Femme Fatale: Penthesilea and the Last Stand of Chivalry in Guido delle Colonne’s Historia Destructionis Troiae

14.45     15.15     Allison Treese (University of Leicester)

O flower of chivalry”: Christine de Pizan and the Christianization of Amazons

15.15     15.45     Discussion


15.45    16.00    Break


Session 2          Troy in the New World

Chair: Nicola McDonald

16.00     16.30     Megan Moore (University of Missouri)

The Mediterranean & the Translation of Emotional Communities: Troy & Legacies of Heroism

16.30    17.00    Susannah Wright (Harvard University)

Troy Translated, Troy Transformed: Case Studies in Medieval Celtic Literature

17.00    17.30    Tine Scheijnen (Ghent University)

Facing the Other: Medieval Reconceptions of Trojan Identity

17.30    18.00    Discussion


18.00    19.00    Breakout reception (using the platform “Wonder”)


Day 2

Session 3          Reshapings of Troy

Chair: Evelien Bracke

13.30    14.00    José Miguel de Toro (Catholic University of Concepción)

The War of Troy in Encyclopedic Literature: the Case of Lambert’s Liber floridus

14.00    14.30    Marco Brunetti (Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Insititut-für-Kunstgeschichte)

Figural and Literary Functional Recoveries of the Trojan Myths from Late Antiquity to Renaissance Age

14.30    15.00    Sophie Schoess (University of St Andrews)

Objects of Worship: The Place of Idols in Mediaeval Troy Narratives

15.00    15.30    Discussion


15.30    15.45    Break


Session 4          Byzantine Enchantments

Chair: Megan Moore

15.45    16.15    Adam Goldwyn (North Dakota State University)

The Sexual Politics of Myth: Rewriting and Unwriting Women in Byzantine Accounts of the Trojan War

16.15    16.45    Baukje van den Berg (Central European University)

Supernatural Rhetoric and Gendered Eloquence: Eustathios and Tzetzes on Hermes, Athena, and the Muses

16.45    17.15    Agnese Fontana (University of Genoa)

What If King David Had Fought at Troy? The Trojan Narrative in Byzantine World Chronicles (VI-XII Century): Religious, Historical and Political Issues

17.15    17.45    Discussion


17.45 – 18.00     End discussion

Chair: Ellen and Tine

For more information, please email Dr Tine Scheijnen ( or Dr Ellen Söderblom Saarela (

This workshop is organized as part of and supported by the ERC project Novel Echoes and the FWO project The romance between Greece and the west (see