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Christian Illustrious Men: Christian Culture and Identity from Eusebius of Caesarea to Isidore of Sevilla

Project description

How late antique literature impacted Christian identity and society

Literary works on 'Illustrious Men' (De viris illustribus) are attested from the Graeco-Roman period to the Renaissance and beyond. In late antiquity, this literary genre was appropriated by Christian scholars, defining the new Christian literary culture that emerged in parallel with the formation of the biblical canon. The EU-funded ChrisVirIll project will explore the impact of this genre on Christian identity and society, from the Constantinian turn to early Medieval Spain. Combining philological-historical close reading with insights from social and cultural studies, the project will shed new light on the manner in which these De viris illustribus were exploited to respond to societal challenges, and how they impacted Christians’ cultural identity.


"This project aims to provide a multi-focal, trans-historical and trans-local analysis of the late antique Christian De viris illustribus (=DVI). It will demonstrate, against past analyses which have considered them as inert, timeless literary traditions, that the DVIs are deeply anchored into specific social, religious and historical contexts that they actively contributed to shape. ChrisVirIll will therefore shed new light on the impact of late antique literature on Christian identity and society. While the reception of these DVIs has been studied in quite some detail due to their success from the Middle-Ages on, their original purpose, context and meaning have received little attention. Yet, their success and impact on later periods cannot be fully grasped without a more comprehensive understanding of their initial production. This innovative project aims to fill this gap by offering answers on why and how, from the Constantinian turn, Christian authors appropriated the genre of the DVI, and how, from the time of Theodosius, through multiple continuations, they were developed to eventually reach ""canonization"" in later centuries. It will specifically focus on how this literary form was exploited to dynamically respond to new societal challenges and how they impacted the Christians' cultural identity. Providing a comprehensive, comparative and interdisciplinary analysis of these writings, this project will combine traditional philological-historical close-reading with insights from social and cultural studies (including gender studies). I believe that, thanks to this fellowship, my expertise in the history and literature of this period will help me reach my ambition of re-embarking on an academic career."



Net EU contribution
€ 178 320,00
3000 Leuven

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Vlaams Gewest Prov. Vlaams-Brabant Arr. Leuven
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 178 320,00