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Martha G. Newman, Chair BUR 529, Mailcode A3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-7737

Fall 2008

R S 383 • Saints' Lives as Historical Sources

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
44749 W
5:00 PM-8:00 PM
UTC 4.120

Course Description

This graduate seminar covers 1.) some key primary sources for the study of premodern sanctity and 2.) a sampling of the range of methods that scholars have applied to those sources. The focus is on Christianity to 1700, but students working later are welcome and attention will also be given to precedents and analogies in Judaism and Islam. The two-track syllabus, addressing both primary and secondary sources, is designed to build students' confidence in interpreting evidence and in using hagiographic aides. Students will master technical, historical, and theoretical aspects of the field. Expect changes to the syllabus depending on student interests. Reading competence in at least one language other than English is encouraged. The course may be taken for reading or research credit. Requirements and grading. Minimal requirements are regular attendance, careful preparation of readings, thoughtful participation in discussion, and timely completion of written assignments. Students will elect either the reading or the research track.

Grading Policy

Reading-track students: five brief responses (2-3 pages) to readings and corresponding class discussion moderating (50%); bibliographical essay (8-10 pages) (40%).
Research-track students: three research reports (3-5 pages) on how their own investigations relate to class readings (50%); a final research paper (15-20 pages) with prospectus on a topic developed in close consultation with the professor (40%).
Everyone will pick a focus saint for the semester and master the saints dossier. Draw up a bibliography of primary sources in chronological order by century. Choose one of those sources to present to the class. Your ten-minute presentation should include a handout with primary source bibliography; a brief paragraph of information on the saint and another on the author; and what is, in your judgment, a key passage from the vita. Provide your own translation, if the text is not in English. (10%)


Many short readings will be available in xerox and on Blackboard (under "Documents"). The following are on 3-day reserve in PCL; they can also be purchased at the COOP, but do not buy them before the first class meeting: Hippolyte Delehaye, Legends of the Saints (Fr. 1927; Eng. 1962 or 1998) Glen Bowersock, Martyrdom and Rome (out of print; xerox in PCL reserves) Peter R.L. Brown, Cult of the Saints G. Galt Harpham, Ascetic Imperative Patrick Geary, Furta sacra Alan Greer, Mohawk Saint Donald Weinstein and Daniel Bell, Saints and Society Jean-Claude Schmitt, Holy Greyhound (out of print; PCL reserves) Aviad Kleinberg, Prophets in Their Own Country R. Po-Chi Hsia, Trent 1475 Brad Gregory, Salvation at Stake Allan Greer and Jodi Bilinkoff,


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