Saturday, May 10, 2008

Journal of Late Antiquity

I've just opened today's mail, and found volume 1, number 1 of The Journal of Late Antiquity.

"The Journal of Late Antiquity (JLA) is the first international English-language journal dedicated to the study of Late Antiquity writ large. The journal provides a venue for multi-disciplinary coverage of all the methodological, geographical, and chronological facets of Late Antiquity. All of Late Antiquity will be represented--from the late and post-classical world up to the Carolingian period, and including the late Roman, western European, Byzantine, Sassanid, and Islamic worlds, ca. AD 250-800. JLA is essential, not only as a space for scholarship dealing with practical and theoretical issues, but, in particular, to bridge the gap between literary and material culture scholarship. One of the primary goals of the journal is to highlight the status of Late Antiquity as a discrete historical period in its own right."

I note that the second article is by someone I've actually had dinner with, Edward James. (A first for me. Most medievalists--late antiquarians??--are just photons and electrons floating in the ether. Very kind, helpful, knowledgeable photons, it's true, but not entirely real to me.)

The journal looks wonderful. I can't wait to dig in.

2 comments:

Michelle said...

when has Late Antiquity gone all the way up to the Carolingian period (c. 800)?

Can you tell us some of the topics in the first issue?

nicola said...

Journal of Late Antiquity, contents:

• From the Editor, Ralph Mathison
• A Long Late Antiquity? Considerations on a Controversial Periodization, Arnaldo Marcone
• The Rise and Function of the Concept 'Late Antiquity', Edward James
• Decline, Fall, and Transformation, Clifford Ando
• Barbarians, Historians, and the Construction of National Identities, Ian Wood
• From Usurper to Emperor: The Politics of Legitimation in the Age of Constantine, Mark Humphries
• Mountain Constantines: The Christianization of Aksum and Iberia, Christopher Haas
• A Second Constantine? The Sasanian King Yazdgard in Christian History and Hagiography, Scott McDonough
• Prosopography, Nomenclature, and Royal Succession in the Visigothic Kingdom of Toledo, Luis A. García Moreno
• Chronology and Composition of the Histories of Gregory of Tours, Alexander Callender Murray
• Book Reviews

I've only read the intro and first two articles. All, on some level, are concerned with defining Late Antiquity.

Mathison's introduction discusses how JLA came about, and why. Marcone's article, translated from the Italian by Christiana Sogno, was a little confusing to me. I think he was basically arguing (I use the word advisedly; he seemed a bit testy) that periodization was once again a useful concept, despite others' thoughts to the contrary.

James's article was great. Very clear, very relaxed. He's a bit of a sceptic, I think. If I'm reading him correctly he's saying that those who ignore the notion of 'decline' at the expense of harping on about 'continuity' do so at their peril. I think he has a point. To me, the notion of continuity--as opposed to decline and fall, or at least crisis--might make sense if the place under discussion is, say, Edessa, but becomes mildly ridiculous if we're talking about, say, the north of England. In York, Rome did fall; there was a decline.

I'm looking forward to the articles by Ando and Wood, and Murray's piece might also be useful for my project.

The Wood might be useful for you, Michelle. It appears to be about how the notion of 'Late Antiquity' is changing discourse on theories of nationhood. Or something like that. More once I've read it.