| Vilja Alanko, Doctoral student|
Stories of Feminine Becoming: Mothers and Daughters in Early Christian Hagiograph
My research project, titled “Stories of Feminine Becoming: Mothers and Daughters in Early Christian Hagiography”, examines the relationships of mothers and daughters in three early Christian hagiographies from second through seventh centuries – the Acts of (Paul and) Thecla, the Life of Macrina, and the Life of Mary of Egypt. These accounts provide three different representations of a holy woman, while they all both include elements of gender ambivalence and manifest a strong sense of agency attributed to their protagonists. On my reading, the presence of mothers and daughters, regardless of whether their bond is biological, adoptive, or divine, is the starting point for the analysis feminine subjectification and relationality. Theoretically, this study builds on Luce Irigaray’s thought that emphasizes the significance of feminine genealogies and especially maternal relations for feminine subjectivity. My work thus further joins the study of early Christian asceticism and its impact on notions of gender and sexuality.