Saints in Disguise: Literary Performance in Greek Late Antique Saints’ Lives.

01 October 2016 → 31 December 2020
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Theory and methodology of philosophy
    • Philosophy
    • Other philosophy, ethics and religious studies not elsewhere classified
performance hagiography disguise
Project description

This project seeks to examine the literary representation of performance in Greek late antique hagiographical Lives of 'saints in disguise' (4th-10th c.), holy types that are usually not studied together but that may arguably be compared on the basis of their adoption of a false identity. Among them are Lives of cross-dressers, of holy fools, and of other saints who take on other forms of disguise. The project investigates the narrative strategies that are used in these stories to represent disguise and theatrical performance, characteristics which are not readily associated with saints and holiness. More specifically, the project examines aspects of the saint’s performance vis-à-vis other characters as well as aspects of the text’s performance vis-à-vis the reader and the narrative effects. By highlighting fictional aspects of the texts, the project aims to show also that the theme of disguise was sought out for its narrative qualities and entertaining effect as much as its edifying value.