Hrotsvit's Legends as Redemptive Pedagogy: The 'Nectar of Heavenly Grace' Restricted; Files & ToC

Bogue, Sarah Virginia (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/pn89d7156?locale=en
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Abstract

This dissertation explores the work of tenth-century canoness Hrotsvit of Gandersheim, focusing on her eight hagiographic legends. This corpus presents a truly unique collection of saints, beginning with biblical archetypes of Mary and Christ, continuing with the "contemporary" martyrs Gongolf and Pelagius, then exploring two devil contract narratives that feature Theophilus and an unnamed slave, and concluding with classic saints Dionysius and Agnes. I argue that Hrotsvit's hagiographic corpus serves as a type of "redemptive pedagogy," assisting her audience in exercising their intellects in service of a more faithful understanding and practice of Christianity. As I demonstrate, the introduction to Hrotsvit's corpus commends such a pedagogical hermeneutic to her audience, grounding her work as a writer firmly in her own experience as a student. In her position as recipient of an extensive education, Hrotsvit takes on the role of educator in the saint's lives. She does this in two complementary ways. First, Hrotsvit emphasizes the value of education for the characters in her stories, depicting ideal saints as dedicated to their own educational opportunities, sensitive to lessons provided by miraculous events, and capable of articulating their faith in the service of educating others. Second, Hrotsvit weaves theological lessons into each of her saint's lives. These lessons interpret events in the narrative, offering explanatory asides that assist Hrotsvit's readers in exploring the complexities of the Christian faith.

After offering an overview of early medieval monastic education for women in chapter one, I explore the redemptive pedagogy found in each of the eight legends, comparing them to Hrotsvit's potential source material. As I prove, these legends are more than a mere repetition of existing work; they are a creative retelling, providing Hrotsvit's audience with the means to form their faith through the exercise of their intellects.

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