Topic outline

  • General

    Welcome to Women and Gender in the Early Church

    Eileen M. Harney
    Email: eharney@marlboro.edu
    Office Location: Dalrymple 32

    Adam and Eve, Catacomb of SS Pietro and Marcellino, Rome (3rd c.) Holy Women and the Angel at the Empty Tomb, Mosaic Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna (c. 504)Virgin and Child Enthroned between Angels, Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna (c. 556-569) Perpetua, Mosaic Archiepiscopal Chapel, Ravenna (c. 494) Agnes, Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna (c. 500)


    The Early Church was a body fraught with debate and controversy. Among the many and varied concerns of the Fathers of the Church was the role of women. This course will consider the diverse positions and situations of women during the formation and formalization of the Early Church’s structure. It will explore fundamental arguments concerning women’s “appropriate” behavior and the principles from which these arguments arose. In addition to the philosophical debates and assertions relative to proper conduct, it will consider accounts of “exemplary” women. Several of these women perform acts and present behaviors that appear contradictory to tenets of the time. While examining the place of women, the course will explore the expected positions and behavior of men. It will also consider the fluidity of gender present in certain early Christian accounts. Readings will include works by Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, John Chrysostom, and Tertullian.
  • Topic 1

    9/6 INTRODUCTION TO THE CHURCH FATHERS, THE EARLY CHURCH, AND BIBLICAL WOMEN
  • Topic 2

    9/8 BIBLICAL WOMEN AND THE EVE-MARY RELATIONSHIP
  • Topic 3

    9/13 THE NATURE OF WOMEN AND "PROPER DECORUM"
  • Topic 4

    9/15 THE NATURE OF WOMEN AND SEXUALITY
  • Topic 5

    9/20 MARRIAGE AND WIVES
  • Topic 6

    9/22 MARRIAGE AND WIVES
  • Topic 7

    9/27 MARRIAGE AND WIVES
  • Topic 8

    9/29 MARRIAGE, WIVES, AND WIDOWS
  • Topic 9

    10/4 SISTERS AND MOTHERS
  • Topic 10

    10/6 VIRGINITY AND CONTINENCE
  • Topic 11

    10/11 VIRGINITY AND CONTINENCE
  • Topic 12

    10/13 VIRGINITY AND CONTINENCE
  • Topic 13

    10/20 VIRGINITY AND CONTINENCE
  • Topic 14

    10/25 VIRGINITY AND CONTINENCE
  • Topic 15

    10/27 VIRGINITY AND CONTINENCE
  • Topic 16

    11/1 TEACHING AND POSITIONS OF POWER
  • Topic 17

    11/3 TEACHING AND POSITIONS OF POWER
  • Topic 18

    11/8 TEACHING AND POSITIONS OF POWER
  • Topic 19

    11/10 TEACHING AND POSITIONS OF POWER, MARTYRS
  • Topic 20

    11/15 MARTYRS
  • Topic 21

    11/17 MARTYRS
  • Topic 22

    11/22 MARTYRS, ASCETICS AND TRANSVESTITE SAINTS
  • Topic 23

    11/24 NO CLASS-THANKSGIVING BREAK
    • Topic 24

      11/29 ASCETICS AND TRANSVESTITE SAINTS
    • Topic 25

      12/1 PILGRIMAGES AND SECULAR POWER, FEMALE IMAGES AND SYMBOLS
    • Topic 26

      12/6 MARY MAGDALENE, MARY AND THE MARIAN CULT
    • Topic 27

      12/8 COURSE WRAP-UP
    • Topic 28