Byzantine Gender merits reading in print because its tone is conveyed in part through the format of the book, a slim, pocket-sized soft cover that fits in the palm of the hand. Like the Arc Humanities series generally, it presents itself as easily digestible and approachable, yet delivers serious engagement and rigorous thinking. Its one hundred pages of reasonably sized font can be read in a single sitting, recommending it as a supplemental text for a survey or topical lecture 866 Reviews course, or a seminar at the undergraduate or graduate level. [...] Recommended for “Byzantinists” interested in issues of gender—and for outsiders to the field who seek entry to these discussions—Byzantine Gender embraces a refreshingly idiosyncratic approach to the topic, and delivers it in an engagingly conversational style. Neville makes a compelling case for the fundamental importance of gender in the ongoing reappraisal of Byzantine history, and she highlights promising pathways toward a more accurate understanding of how gender identities shaped medieval Roman culture and society.
~Alicia Walker, Speculum 96, no. 3 (2021): 866-69
Why were virtuous Byzantine women described as manly? Why were boys' bodies thought to be closer in constitution to those of women than adult men? Did Byzantines think eunuchs were men?
This lively and personal book explains some key aspects of how people of the Medieval Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) conceived of men and women, masculinity and femininity, and proper behaviour for men and women. By laying bare fundamental ideas about how gender was defined and performed, Byzantine Gender enables readers to understand Byzantine society more fully. And by providing background information about Byzantine gender, it makes it easier to approach and appreciate the fascinating otherness of Byzantine culture.
1 “Byzantine” People: Powerful Women & Wimpy Men
2 Medieval Roman Anthropology
3 Gender & Virtue
4 How did medieval Roman Women get so much done?
5 Masculinity & Military Strength
6 Change Over Time