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

Spring 2009

R S 383 • Saints' Lives as Historical Sources

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43828 W
5:00 PM-8:00 PM

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.

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


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