Video #6: Dr. Sabrina C. Higgins Talks about Women and the Cult of Saint Thecla

Image of Dr. Sabrina Higgins in front of the Louvre
Dr. Sabrina Higgins at the Louvre, Paris

In this instalment of the Peopling the Past Video Series, Dr. Sabrina C. Higgins discusses her research on the art of Saint Thecla, a popular early Christian saint, and the ways in which ancient women used her imagery to assert agency through their artistic choices.

Dr. Higgins is the Assistant Professor of Aegean and Mediterranean Societies and Cultures at Simon Fraser University, where she is cross-appointed between the departments of Humanities and Archaeology. Her research stands at the intersection of Art History, Archaeology, Religious Studies, Papyrology and Gender Studies, with a primary focus on the material culture of early Christian cults in late antique Egypt, especially the cults of the Virgin Mary and St. Thecla. She was recently awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant for her project, “The Early Cult of the Virgin and the Hegemony of the Text”. In addition to this research, Dr. Higgins is an active field archaeologist. She is currently the Assistant Director of the excavations at Golemo Gradište, a late antique basilica in the Republic of North Macedonia, and a co-investigator on the Temple of Isis Graffiti Project, Philae, Egypt.

Interested in learning more? Check out this related article by Dr. Higgins:

St. Thecla and the Art of her Pilgrims: Towards an Autonomous Feminine Aesthetic Praxis

Additional Resources Related to Female Agency and the Cult of St. Thecla

ANSON, J. 1974. “The Female Transvestite in Early Monasticism: The Origin and Development of a Motif.” Viator, 5: 1-32.

DAVIS, S.J. 2001. The Cult of Saint Thecla: A Tradition of Women’s Piety in Late Antiquity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

HYLEN, S.E. 2015. A Modest Apostle: Thecla and the History of Women in the Early Church. New York: Oxford University Press.

VAN DEN HOEK, A. and HERRMANN JR, J.J. 2013. “Thecla the Beast Fighter: A Female Emblem of Deliverance in Early Christian Popular Art.” In Pottery, Pavements and Paradise: Iconographic and Textual Studies on Late Antiquity. Edited by van den Hoek, A. and Herrmann Jr, J.J. Leiden: Brill.

WESTFALL, C.L. 2016. Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle’s Vision for Men and Women in Christ. Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Academic.

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