Narrative traditioning and allusive gesturing : Perpetua reconsidered.

DeVore, Megan (2015) Narrative traditioning and allusive gesturing : Perpetua reconsidered. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

The early Christian martyr narrative Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis has been widely debated for centuries. Substantial interpretative quandaries remain about the Passio’s unique account of events surrounding the martyrdom of a group of catechumens in Severan-era Roman North Africa. Predominant scholarly assessment views the Passio as the product of a redactor whose text frames the prison diary of the elite matron Perpetua. Purportedly composed prior to her martyrdom, her account is undeniably exceptional among ancient texts. This thesis counters such views and argues instead that neglected aspects of its contextual dynamics warrant reinterpretation of the Passio. Firstly, ramifications of Perpetua’s identity – elite, abundantly educated, and a catechumen – can inform an alternative reading strategy. Perpetua’s account can be viewed as a sophisticated narrative which displays awareness of the potency of, and strategies for, commemoration in both secular and Christian contexts. Her authorial act is demonstrably in symbiotic relationship with, not subsumed by, the narrative that introduces and concludes the text. Secondly, the Passio arguably is situated within pre-existing commemorative traditions. The Passio’s literary portrayal of events cultivates legitimacy with the aim to be received into these traditions, and its authors utilize rhetorical mnemo-techniques for this purpose. For this reason, the theoretical insights of social memory provide valuable tools for interpreting and classifying the text. This study contends that the Passio account, particularly the narrative section attributed to Perpetua, is more complex than has previously been recognized and, for that reason merits significant reappraisal.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Perpetua, Saint-203 Christian martyrs Passio
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Sandra Stedman
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2016 12:36
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2016 10:48
URI: http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/650

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