June 5, 2023

Barry Publishes in ‘Journal of Late Antiquity’

Associate Professor of Religious Studies Jennifer Barry

Associate Professor of Religious Studies Jennifer Barry

Jennifer Barry, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, was recently published in the Journal of Late Antiquity. Her article, “A Bad Romance: Late Ancient Fantasy, Violence, and Christian Hagiography” spotlights material in her current book project on gender violence in late ancient Christian hagiographies (saint’s lives).

The following is an abstract of the article:

In Gerontius’s labor of love, the Life of Melania the Younger, the hagiographer makes it clear that this is an intentional exercise in memory-making as well as a performance of personal piety. To craft his hagiographical fantasy, Gerontius imports romantic themes from Greek romance novels and ancient dream theory to evaluate Melania’s pre-saintly life. Here, I explore the framing of the vita as a genre-bending (bad) romance and resituate this text within a larger discourse of constructed male fantasies of gender-based violence. To accomplish this goal, I examine overlapping themes in Christian and non-Christian Greek novels to emphasize references to sexual violence in the Life of Melania the Younger. Then, I show how the use of ancient dream theory frames the hagiographical project and produces what I identify as a male fantasy. Finally, I conclude that the hagiographical project—the intentional act of writing holiness—produced a troubling vision of sanctioned domestic violence.