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Laura Smith

Theology, Divinity and Religion, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Daily Martyrdom and the Suffering Feminine Body: Discourses of Female Asceticism in Late Antique Christianity

Recent scholarly work has re-evaluated the portrayal of the suffering Christian body and its representation in literature of Late Antiquity. Yet critical study of discourses of suffering have focused almost solely on martyrological sources, virtually ignoring the significant body of ascetic literature in which narratives of suffering are also prominent. To address this lacuna, my project aims to investigate the textual commemoration of corporeal suffering of female ascetics in fourth and fifth century Christian discourse. Focusing on the representation of women will reveal new aspects of the lived and represented feminine experience, whilst shedding new light on corporeal performances beyond the field of martyrdom. 

Research Area

  • Theology, Divinity and Religion

Other Research Interests

  • Late antiquity
  • Asceticism
  • Gender studies
  • Early Christianity
  • Martyrdom
  • Ancient Medicine