Byzantine perceptions of the outsider in the eleventh and twelfth centuries : a method
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This thesis examines the portrayal of outsiders in Michael Psellos's Chronographia, Anna Komnene's Alexiad, and Niketas Choniates's Narrative - using sociological theories of deviancy. The twofold aim is to "treat texts seriously", localized in Jakobson's speech-event nexus of addresser, context, content, contact, code and addressee; and secondly to understand the texts as statements of the ideology of the dominant elite. Outsiders are defined (using the labelling orientation) as people successfully defined as deviants; deviant behaviour is whatever they do. The dominant elite creates cultural boundaries, and places individuals in outsider roles on the other side of those boundaries. Outsiders can be understood only in terms of who defines them as deviant; there is no material reality to deviancy. Stereotypes, which identify social categories of people by evaluative trait-characteristics, are necessary elements of human cognition; they become prejudice only when they are over-generalized, based on too limited data, applied too widely and maintained in the face of contrary empirical evidence. The analysis of the three texts in depth allows the identification of those groups labelled as outsiders by these expositors of the dominant ideology. My conclusion is that these authors portray a picture of the Byzantine outsider, which is coherent between this limited sample group, allowing for individual variation. These authors used stereotypes to conceptualize and encode in the linguistic and lexicographical complexities of their texts the outsiders they identified in their societies. Their presentation uses stereotypes, but does not descend to prejudice.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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