Loading Events

“Disfigurement, Disability, and the Dangers of Punishment in Byzantium: The Case of Punitive Blinding”

Jake Ransohoff, Mary Seeger O'Boyle Postdoctoral Research Fellow

November 10, 2023 · 12:00 pm1:20 pm · 103 Scheide Caldwell

The Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies

This talk is about punishment and exclusion in the Byzantine world. It focuses on a particular penalty—blinding—commonly used to disqualify victims from positions of political leadership. But despite its official justification as a merciful alternative to death, “political” blinding in Byzantium often backfired and provoked popular opposition. Drawing on insights from disability studies, this talk examines the sightless body an unstable site of meaning: whether it reflected the compassion, or the injustice, of the state remained an open question. It is precisely blinding’s tendency to provoke contestation and controversy that makes it revealing of the most persistent tensions within Byzantine society across time.

Humanities Council Logo
Italian Studies Logo
American Studies Logo
Humanistic Studies Logo
Ancient World Logo
Canadian Studies Logo
ESC Logo
Journalism Logo
Linguistics Logo
Medieval Studies Logo
Renaissance Logo
Film Studies Logo