Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Religious Studies

Second Department

Late Antique-Medieval Studies

Reader 1

Luis Salés

Reader 2

Kenneth Baxter Wolf

Reader 3

Erin Runions

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

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.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.