The Sex Lives of Saints: An Erotics of Ancient Hagiography

Przednia okładka
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007 - 216

Has a repressive morality been the primary contribution of Christianity to the history of sexuality? The ascetic concerns that pervade ancient Christian texts would seem to support such a common assumption. Focusing on hagiographical literature, Virginia Burrus pursues a fresh path of interpretation, arguing that the early accounts of the lives of saints are not antierotic but rather convey a sublimely transgressive "countereroticism" that resists the marital, procreative ethic of sexuality found in other strands of Christian tradition.

Without reducing the erotics of ancient hagiography to a single formula, The Sex Lives of Saints frames the broad historical, theological, and theoretical issues at stake in such a revisionist interpretation of ascetic eroticism, with particular reference to the work of Michel Foucault and Georges Bataille, David Halperin and Geoffrey Harpham, Leo Bersani and Jean Baudrillard. Burrus subsequently proceeds through close, performative readings of the earliest Lives of Saints, mostly dating to the late fourth and early fifth centuries--Jerome's Lives of Paul, Malchus, Hilarion, and Paula; Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Macrina; Augustine's portrait of Monica; Sulpicius Severus's Life of Martin; and the slightly later Lives of so-called harlot saints. Queer, s/m, and postcolonial theories are among the contemporary discourses that prove intriguingly resonant with an ancient art of "saintly" loving that remains, in Burrus's reading, promisingly mobile, diverse, and open-ended.

 

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Spis treści

Hagiography and the History of Sexuality
1
Fancying Hermits Sublimation and the Arts of Romance
19
The Queer Life of Paul the Hermit
24
The Queer Marriage of Malchus the Monk
33
Hilarions Last Laugh
39
Fantasies of a Faun
46
Reading as Another Woman
49
Dying for a Life Martyrdom Masochism and Female AutoBiography
53
Sulpiciuss Passion
103
The Hagiographer the Ethnographer and the Native
109
Witnessing Ambivalence
122
Secrets of Seduction The Lives of Holy Harlots
128
Mary Niece of Abraham
132
Pelagia of Antioch
137
Mary of Egypt
147
The Joy of Harlotry
155

Praising Paula
60
Remembering Macrina
69
Confessing Monica
76
Testimony to Womans Survival
86
Fragments of an Autobiography Hair
88
Hybrid Desire Empire Sadism and the Soldier Saint
91
Domination and Submission in the Life of Martin
94
Postscript Catching My Breath
160
Notes
163
Bibliography
199
Index
209
Acknowledgments
215
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Informacje o autorze (2007)

Virginia Burrus is the Bishop W. Earl Ledden Professor of Religion at Syracuse University. She is author of Ancient Christian Ecopoetics and Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects, both available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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