This unit will enable students to address at an advanced level historical issues involved in women’s roles, position and status in Late Antiquity (the period of transition from the ancient to the medieval world, 3rd to 8th century CE), and attitudes towards them. The focus of the unit will be women in Egypt and Byzantium. By reading selected primary sources, this unit will engage with some of the most powerful and influential women in antiquity and analyse the roles these women played in religious and theological debates, the home, and social and economic life

Unit code: AH9150A

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: History

Delivery Mode: Blended

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Articulate an advanced understanding of women's history in late antiquity;


Analyse at an advanced level the change in attitude towards women in the transition from Ancient to early Medieval times;


Compare and contrast the various theologies that were prominent in Late Antiquity and the role played by selected women in these debates;


Critically interpret historical events contained in the primary sources.


Evaluate at an advanced level the role of women in late antiquity


Demonstrate the capacity to research a specific topic in a critically rigorous, sustained and self-directed manner.

Unit sequence

24 points AH/CH, 72 points any disciplines


Asynchronous video lectures, synchronous tutorials face-to-face and online

Indicative Bibliography

Primary sources:

Secondary sources

  • Brock, Sebastian & Susan Harvey. Holy Women of the Syrian Orient. London: University of California Press, 1998.
  • Clark, Elizabeth, Women in the Early Church. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1983.
  • Clark, Gillian, Women in Late Antiquity. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994.
  • Coon, Lynda, Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and Hagiography in Late Antiquity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997.
  • Dietz, Maribel, Wandering Monks, Virgins, and Pilgrims. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005.
  • Grubbs, Judith Evan, Women and the Law in the Roman Empire. A Sourcebook, London: Routledge, 2002.
  • Kraemer, Ross, Her Share of the Blessings: Women's Religions among Pagans, Jews and Christians in the Greco-Roman World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.
  • Kraemer, Ross and Mary Rose D'Angelo, Women and Christian Origins Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Wilfong, T.G., Women of Jeme. Lives in a Coptic Town in Late Antique Egypt. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.


  • Davis, Stephen J., “Crossed Texts, Crossed Sex: Intertextuality and Gender in Early Christian Legends of Holy Women Disguised as Men”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 10 (2002), 1-36.
  • Elm, Susanna, ‘Virgins of God’: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity, Oxford 1994.
  • Fisher, A. L. Women and Gender in Palladius’ Lausiac History, Studia Monastica 33 (1991), 23-50.
  • Krawiec, Rebecca, Shenoute & the Women of the White Monastery. Egyptian Monasticism in Late Antiquity, New York 2002 (pp.13-30 on e-reserve).
  • Krawiec, Rebecca, “From the Womb of the Church”: Monastic Families, Journal of Early Christian Studies 11 (2003), 283-307.
  • Wilfong, Terry G., Women of Jeme. Lives in a Coptic Town in Late Antique Egypt. New Texts from Ancient Cultures, Ann Arbor 2002.
  • Wipszycka, Ewa, L’ascétisme féminin dans l’Égypte de l’antiquité tardive: topoi littéraires et formes d’ascèse, in: Henri Melaerts and Leon Mooren (eds.), Le rôle et le statut de la femme en Égypte hellénistique, romaine et byzantine. Actes du colloque international Bruxelles – Leuven 27-29 novembre 1997, Paris – Leuven – Sterling, VA 2002, 355-396.
  • Acts of Thecla (from the Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1871):
  • The Life of Mary of Egypt at The Saint Pachomius Library:


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay 37500 50.0
Essay 3750 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 30 Sep, 2020

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:49 +1000