Fall 2013

Gender in Early Christianity

Listed in: Religion, as RELI-272

Moodle site: Course


Maia L. Kotrosits (Section 01)


This course orients students to the landscape of conflicts and imaginations around gender in early Christianity. It explores both the regular demands in early Christian literature that women and men exhibit traditional roles and behaviors, as well as the more daring suggestions made within this literature that women and men step out of such prescribed roles. It also importantly explores how gender appears representationally: How do masculinity and femininity work to process, shake up, or stabilize certain social relationships? How does gender relate to demands to avoid or maintain certain sexual practices? How does gender process or avoid anxieties about bodily life at large? This course is organized primarily around special topics, themes, and figures, giving sustained attention, for instance, to the figure of Mary Magdalene and the suffering Jesus, and their variously gendered descriptions in early Christian literature. What kinds of worries about and assertions of power and vulnerability do these descriptions suggest?

In order to understand the various claims about gender in early Christian literature, one must also have a sense of mechanisms and meanings around gender in the Greco-Roman world in which these texts were written. So while much of our time in class will be spent closely reading early Christian texts, we will be historically situating them within a larger thought-world and set of cultural conventions. We will also be repeatedly asking what these texts do and mean in contemporary debates about gender and sexuality. To what extent do early Christian texts or figures propose or exhibit a kind of gender-queerness, for example? 

Fall semester.  Visiting Lecturer Kotrosits


2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013