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Encounter : The Transvestite Virgin, The Repentant Harlot, and The Re-Virginised Abbess: Models of Female Sainthood in Anglo-Saxon England

Faculté de gestion: Faculté des lettres

Responsable(s): Juliette Vuille
Intervenant(s): -

Période de validité: 2020 -> 2020

Pas d'horaire défini.

Séminaire (optionnel)

Semestre de printemps
2 heures par semaine
28 heures par semestre

Langue(s) d'enseignement: anglais
Public: Oui
Crédits: 0


Between the virgin martyr who grows roots when men try to rape her, the woman who dresses as a man and distinguishes herself as a monk, the saint who leaves for the desert and eats nothing for forty-seven years, and the former queen and abbess of a double monastery (i.e., overseeing both monks and nuns) whose advice is actively sought after, the Early English period abounds in quirky, surprising, and sometimes hilarious, models of female sanctity.

The goal of this seminar will be to get an idea of the main types of female sanctity that existed in early medieval England, and from this to reflect upon what it meant to be a woman in the Anglo-Saxon period.

What do these female saints reveal about models of femininity in the Early English imaginaire? What models could women relate to, aspire to, and imitate at the time?

We will read from a selection of saints' lives from the Old English Martyrology, Ælfric's Lives of Saints, and others, in correlation with secondary literature that will inform our reading of the primary sources.

In addition to this this seminar aims to provide students with a basic understanding of Old English. Saints' lives are usually very easy texts to translate, and we will translate a few lines every week, so as to permit students to be able to go back to the original text and understand its intricacies.


An essay of 3000 words (8-9 pages)*, together with a short input presentation in class. Presentations (alone or in groups depending on attendance) will involve presenting a short analysis of a primary text with the help of secondary, critical, material. Details to be discussed at the first meeting of the seminar.

*For the 3000-words essay the deadline is Sunday of week 15. Students following the 'plan d'études 2013' may also write an extended essay of 4000 words (11-12 pages), deadline t.b.a.


A downloadable "polycopié" will be provided.

Exigences du cursus d'études

You must have followed a second-year BA seminar in medieval literature (Exploration)

Informations supplémentaires


Unicentre - CH-1015 Lausanne - Suisse
Tél. +41 21 692 11 11
Canton de Vaud
Swiss University