Female Corporeal Performances
Reading the Body in Byzantine
Passions & Lives of Holy Women

By Stavroula Constantnou
November 2005
Uppsala University Press
ISBN: 9155462928
225 pages, 6" x 9 "
$59.50 Paper Original


This study argues that the religious acts and behavior depicted in Byzantine hagiography can be seen as performances. The martyr, the monk/nun, the patriarch and the cross-dresser, for instance, are roles undertaken by the heroes and heroines of Byzantine hagiography in order to serve God and achieve sanctity.

In this study, the most important roles of female sanctity are approached as depicted in Passions and Lives of holy women through investigating the heroines' bodies which play a vital role in the performance of religious behavior and the construction of sanctity.

The study thus exploits performance theory which suggests that daily life consists of various and repeated performances including particular embodied acts realized in specific places and witnessed by others and/or the watching self. Here such performances are observed and examined in the roles of the martyr, the penitent, the cross-dresser, the nun, the abbess and the pious wife.

Religious History
Studia Byzantina Upsaliensia, No. 9

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