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Eschatological time as women’s time? Gendered temporality and female holiness in Early Christianity and Byzantium

Descrizione del progetto

Una ricerca sulla scomparsa delle sante

Perché le sante sono progressivamente scomparse nel corso del millennio bizantino? Per rispondere a questa domanda, il progetto GenTime, finanziato dall’UE, approfondirà il nesso che vincola il tempo e la costruzione della femminilità nei discorsi agiografici del periodo tardo-antico e bizantino. Il progetto esaminerà questo legame nell’ambito delle attese escatologiche che plasmarono i primi ideali cristiani di santità femminile. Esso analizzerà storie di sante prodotte tra il II e il XIII secolo e metterà inoltre in evidenza la persistenza di strategie utilizzate per controllare le donne in un contesto di ordini sociali patriarcali. I risultati del progetto sensibilizzeranno sul modo in cui i discorsi di genere del tempo sono stati impiegati storicamente per promuovere stili di vita che hanno più a che fare con lotte di potere tra gruppi sociali concorrenti.


This proposal investigates the nexus between time and the construction of the feminine in Late Antique and Byzantine hagiographical discourses. By looking both at ways time is experienced through the body and construed by society and religion, GenTime engages with a highly debated problem in Byzantine studies: why did female saints progressively disappear over the Byzantine millennium? GenTime argues that this trajectory has to be understood against the eschatological expectations shaping early Christian ideals of female holiness. In the 2nd and 3rd century the impending end of times subsumed any other temporality and led to the subversion of traditionally construed “women’s time”. Once the Roman Empire became Christian, the eschatological horizon was reinforced in Byzantium by the widespread circulation of apocalyptic motives, adopted by the Imperial power for political and moral purposes. Eschatologically-motivated narrative patterns about women saints became entrenched and their ongoing success made it hard to accommodate new experiences of holiness when other models of lay temporality eventually emerged during the Middle Byzantine era. GenTime looks at stories about women saints produced between the 2nd and the 13th century CE by adopting a longue durée perspective and using narratology to analyze how patterns of temporalities are inscribed in the text. It builds on feminist phenomenology to highlight the persistence of strategies used to control women’s time within patriarchal social orders. GenTime works with medieval sources and it reflects on the dialectics between integration/assimilation, minority/majority cultures, gender/societal values, all of them of major concern in modern societies. In doing so, it raises awareness about the ways gendered discourses of time have historically been used to promote lifestyles that, ultimately, have less to do with women’s empowerment and more with power struggles between competing social groups.


Contribution nette de l'UE
€ 207 312,00
5230 Odense M

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Danmark Syddanmark Fyn
Tipo di attività
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Costo totale
€ 207 312,00