IMC 2004: Sessions

Session 1003: Genre B(l)ending in Female Saints' Lives

Wednesday 14 July 2004, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Susannah Chewning, Department of English, Union County College, New Jersey
Paper 1003-aGeneric Hybrids: The Life of Synkletike and the Life of Theodora of Arta
(Language: English)
Stavroula Constantinou, Department of Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies, University of Cyprus, Nicosia
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Hagiography, Language and Literature - Greek
Paper 1003-bImmaculate Deceptions: Models of Female Sexuality in Rutebeuf’s Frère Denise and Old French Transvestite Saints
(Language: English)
Karen G. Casebier, Department of French & Italian, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Index terms: Hagiography, Language and Literature - French/ Occitan, Religious Life, Sexuality
Paper 1003-cComparative Exemplae of Gendered Piety in 12th- and 13th-Century Europe
(Language: English)
Elizabeth Bonnette, Newnham College, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Hagiography, Language and Literature - Middle English

session grouped by Sherry Reames (17/11/03):
Abstract paper -a:
The Life of Synkletike (5th century) and that of Theodora of Arta (13th century) are characterised by their generic hybridity, since they combine features of two different genres. In the Life of Synkletike the Life is mingled with the Apopthegmata Patrum. The Life of Theodora of Arta, on the other hand, includes genres of two different cultures, the sacred and the profane. In this text, the genre of Life coexists with that of the Chronicle. In the present paper the generic hybridity of both texts will be examined comparatively. My analysis will show that the texts’ generic hybridity is employed as a device which serves their hybridic ideologies.

Abstract paper -b:
Vernacular hagiography offers us models of ideal behavior in which sexuality and gender play a crucial role. When Old French transvestite saints such as Marine and Euffrosine reject the conventional female social roles of wife and/or mother in favor of virginity, their unconventional sexuality is not only presented as admirable but is legitimated on a symbolic level by their sainthood. However, Rutebeuf’s Frère Denise, a contemporary fabliau, offers a critique of female sanctity by placing chastity within a social context. Although Rutebeuf’s fabliau may be interpreted as a mockery of hagiographical works in general and of female sanctity in particular, this comic text is actually a social satire in which conventional sexuality is ultimately portrayed as a positive social ideal and chastity emerges as a dangerous spiritual ideal because the female saint’s relentless pursuit of spiritual matters poses a threat to the social order.

Abstract paper -c:
I propose to illustrate the ways in which French romance and the culture of fin amours (specifically, the romantic heroine) and their linked economics significantly influenced France’s popular religious works; I will then use the Katherine group texts (principally, the lives of St. Katherine and Margaret) to illustrate the striking changes this literary/economic culture wrought on the Anglo-Saxon hagiographical tradition. I will focus on simultaneously examining the French courtly romance tradition and the vernacular Old French lives of Marina and Faith, then establish the methods by which this literature influences the language, redactions, and character of the Katherine group saints.