New Books: November - December 2021
The De Thematibus ('on the themes') of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus
Translated with introductory chapters and notes by John Haldon
The 10th-century treatise on the military provinces (the ‘themes’) of the medieval East Roman (Byzantine) empire is one of the most enigmatic of the works ascribed to the emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos. A mix of historical geography, imperial propaganda, historical information and legend or myth drawn from ancient, Hellenistic as well as Roman and late Roman sources, it was one of the emperor’s earliest works, although the extent to which he was its author remains debated. Its purpose, and the emperor’s aims in commissioning or writing it, are equally unclear, since it offers neither an accurate historical account of the evolution of the themata nor does it appear to draw on available administrative material that would have been available to its writer. It has remained until now untranslated into English and thus inaccessible to many, in particular to students at all levels both within and outside the field of Byzantine Studies, as well as non-specialist readers. This volume is intended to rectify this situation with a translation into English, accompanying detailed notes, and three introductory chapters providing context and background to the history of the text, Byzantine ideas about geography, and the debate over the themata themselves. Read more about The De Thematibus.
Residues: Thinking Through Chemical Environments
By Soraya Boudia, Angela Creager, Scott Frickel, Emmanuel Henry, Nathalie Jas, Carsten Reinhardt, Jody Roberts
Residues offers readers a new approach for conceptualizing the environmental impacts of chemicals production, consumption, disposal, and regulation. Environmental protection regimes tend to be highly segmented according to place, media, substance, and effect; academic scholarship often reflects this same segmented approach. Yet, in chemical substances we encounter phenomena that are at once voluminous and miniscule, singular and ubiquitous, regulated yet unruly. Inspired by recent studies of materiality and infrastructures, we introduce “residual materialism” as a framework for attending to the socio-material properties of chemicals and their world-making powers. Read more about Residues.
In Search of The Third Bird: Exemplary Essays from The Proceedings of ESTAR(SER), 2001-2021
Edited by D. Graham Burnett, Catherine L. Hansen and Justin E.H. Smith
The real history of the covey of attention-artists who call themselves “The Birds.”
A great deal of uncertainty—and even some genuine confusion—surrounds the origin, evolution, and activities of the so-called Avis Tertia or “Order of the Third Bird.” Sensational accounts of this “attentional cult” emphasize histrionic rituals, tragic trance-addictions, and the covert dissemination of obscurantist ontologies of the art object. Hieratic, ecstatic, and endlessly evasive, the Order attracts sensual misfits and cabalistic aesthetes—both to its ranks, and to its scholarship. Read more about In Search of the Third Bird.