Friday, 1 May 2015

Hagit Amirav: The Interface between Sociology and the Study of History: Sociological Perspectives on the Council of Chalcedon (451AD)

This communication is intended to highlight a few important aspects in the study of history in the context of sociological and literary theories, and their potential usefulness for the historian. More specifically, I will present a few selected problems which I have encountered in my recent study of the Chalcedonian Acts, to be published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (Göttingen) in the course of 2015. The central focus of my study is a detailed discourse analysis of a selected number of proceedings of the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD). As will be further discussed, being verbatim records, these proceedings should be studied as a piece of theatre, in which the different actors played their role. The discourse analysis which is applied to the texts at issue is concerned with the dynamics of interaction and communication, verbal and gestural, between the delegates, ecclesiastical and imperial, between the delegates and the audience of onlookers, and most importantly, between the emperor and his imperial entourage and the leadership of the ecclesiastical establishment. Such an  approach to the proceedings can further our knowledge, among other issues, of ancient ritual (both conscious and unconscious); the internalization and exercise of social codes distinctive to Late Antique society, such as the attaining of harmony within Christian communities as a token of Divine Providence; and the special role which the emperor had in achieving this goal.

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