Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Late Antique-Medieval Studies
Kenneth Baxter Wolf
2022 Sarah L Seaver
Within the writings of Early Christian authors, the lives of female saints project a vision of holy living at the intersection of gender and divinity. Saintly women possessed seemingly masculine traits, which modern scholars have highlighted as a woman’s ”male-like” transcendence towards sanctity. From this perspective, the subsequent ”masculinization” of a female saint’s body would seem to discredit her inherent femininity, altering her gendered identity. The objective of this study is to question whether a saint’s gendered transition is as orderly as foregoing scholarship suggests, or whether other possibilities may be uncovered through a close reading of the Syriac Life of Pelagia of Antioch and the Life of Mary/Marinos. In an attempt to challenge previous notions of sanctity, I turn to the conceptual resources of two queer theorists, Gloria Anzaldua and Judith Butler, to explore a saint’s queered feminine identity. Thus, I argue that a saint’s feminine identity is not lost to its masculine qualities. These masculine characteristics exist alongside the constructs of femininity, present in the transition to a divinity that places one beyond the confines of binary gendered difference.
Seaver, Sarah, "Between the Borderlands of Sainthood: Embracing Queer Gendered Liminality in the Vitae of Early Female Christian Saints" (2022). Scripps Senior Theses. 1882.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.