Editor: Mathilde van Dijk (University of Groningen)
Power over the animals has been a characteristic of saints from their beginnings in the Early Church. By no means restricted to Christian saints, but including similar figures in other religions, this volume will explore how the connection between those very special humans and animals is constructed: the saint as a human rising beyond humanity, touching the divine, and the animal as a creature, which is connected to and yet removed from humanity. In how far do these creatures have agency like a human? The existence of animal trials would suggest that they do, but does this go for all animals in the same way? The volume will also explore the symbolic value of animals, how they function as symbols of virtues and vices, and the educational uses of both saints and animals: how were saints, in their connections to animals, portrayed as being models, or, for that matter, how did the animals function in this respect?
This volume will operate on the cusp of two most exciting fields: hagiographical and animal studies. Although present from the seventeenth century at least, hagiographical studies became a main part of cultural historical studies since the 1960s. More recently, animal studies began to flourish, under the influence of genetic and ethological research, which minimizes the boundaries between humans and animals, and the current ecological crisis, in which the status of humankind as the lord of Creation is questioned increasingly.
The editors of the Hagiography Society Book Series i.e. Sanctity in Global Perspective expressed an interest in publishing this volume.
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September 2022 Abstracts
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January 2024 Publication