Credit units: 3
Offered: Either Term 1 or Term 2
Weekly hours: 3 Lecture hours
College: Arts and Science
In the world of late antiquity, the veneration of saints became a focus of the religious and cultural life of Christian communities. But what is it to be a saint? Many were martyrs and miracle workers, but we also find holy madmen, transvestites, prostitutes. In this class we explore the diverse representations of sanctity in the hagiographical tradition of the Middle Ages, addressing both the literary and the historical questions raised therein. We ask how Christian communities in the later Roman Empire conceived of sanctity. We address questions of gender and empire, ritual and the body, memory and the use of the past. We explore the array of evidence for the cult of the saints—both literary and material—first in an attempt to understand the complex of practices and beliefs that accompany its emergence, but also to recognize more broadly what this institution can tell us about the Mediterranean world of late antiquity and Medieval Europe.
Prerequisite(s): 3 credit units HIST at the 100-level; or 30 credit units of university level courses.
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