Saints' Lives and the Rhetoric of Gender Male and Female in Merovingian Hagiography


Medieval lives of female saints have attracted wide attention in recent years. Some feminist scholars have argued that such texts reveal a distinctive form of female sanctity which only female hagiographers managed properly to articulate, and numerous texts have been attributed to female authors on that assumption. In this revisionist work, John Kitchen tests such claims through a close examination of several texts - lives of both male and female saints, by authors of both sexes - from sixth-century France. The result of his studies is to cast doubt on the assumption that male authors were ignorant of or hostile to certain specifically female concerns. By the same token, Kitchen's work raises serious methodological problems with the assignation of certain texts to female authors on the basis of content and style.

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