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Katie Kleinkopf

Katie KleinkopfSixth-Year Doctoral Student (in 2017-2018)
Department of History
Marco Haslam Dissertation Fellow
Project: Second-Skin: Ascetics as Body-Places in Late Antique Christianity

Early Christian ascetics, from the deserts of Syria and Egypt, to the cities of Rome and Paris, have been interpreted primarily through the physical manipulation and poignant symbolism of their flesh. As a newly-constructed body-places, ascetics, this study argues, refused strict categorization and existed within a space of uncertainty, blurring the binaries of person/object, living/dead, and male/female. Not only did ascetics encompass their abodes as their second skin so that they could approach God as angelic beings which transcended human-constructed binaries, but episcopal authorities used the same images to construct ascetics as tangible, less autonomous places in order to further their own political and religious aims. This project, then, ultimately works to blur the line between categories frequently accepted as “natural” in order to reveal ascetics as contested spaces on which early Christian leaders attempted to reify norms, but through which the holy person him or herself superseded earthly classification.

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