Spolia and textual reincarnations: a reassessment of the Hagia Sophia's history

Title: Spolia and textual reincarnations: a reassessment of the Hagia Sophia's history
Variant title:
  • Spolia a textové reinkarnace: přehodnocení dějin chrámu Hagia Sofia
Source document: Convivium. 2021, vol. 8, iss. Supplementum 2, pp. [60]-75
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
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A study of literary representations of buildings leads to intersections of comparative literature and art history. This article uses two concepts from spolia studies, "reincarnation" and "afterlife" to argue that the forms that a building adopts in literature can be considered textual reincarnations. It analyzes, as a case study, descriptions of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople/Istanbul in literary works from authors such as Paul the Silentiary (d. 575–580), Taşlıcalı Yahya Bey (d. 1582), and Edmondo de Amicis (1846–1908). The history seen through the Hagia Sophia's textual reincarnations constitutes an alternative to its mainstream history, which has often considered its conversions to a mosque and a museum as the sole turning points. Although they may have no overt connections to the building's original architectural structure, textual reincarnations of a building can still provide crucial insights into its reception in everchanging contexts.
This work received support from Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (Grant No. 795465) under the Horizon 2020 Framework of the European Commission. It was initially presented in 2019 at the "Currents and Currency: Cultural Circulations in the Mediterranean and Beyond" workshop at the Koç University Suna & İnan Kıraç Research Center for Mediterranean Civilizations (akmed), Turkey.