This project puts feminist and gender theory in dialogue with primary sources from the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. A multi-departmental and cross-disciplinary group, we look together at primary sources from various religious, geographical, and linguistic traditions spanning roughly 500 BCE to 500 CE. During the 2020–2021 academic year, we will discuss the female prophetic role through the eyes of the Sibylline Oracle as reimagined in Judaic and early Christian literature; feminine language for the divine in Syriac Christianity; sexualization of violence in early martyr acts; scribal practices that obscure women’s voices in ancient Egyptian letters; issues surrounding female performance of masculinity; gendered power dynamics in early Jewish and Christian ascetic communities; and issues of body, cleanliness, and purity in society. This reading group is also supported by the Program in the Ancient World.
All are welcome to attend.
To receive the month’s readings or to be added to the group mailing list, contact Rebekah Haigh ( or Emily Chesley (


Schedule: Third Thursdays of the month, 6–7:30 pm, on Zoom (
September 17: The Female Prophetic Role
October 15: Sexualization of Violence
November 19: Women Performing Masculinity
January 21: Feminine Language for the Divine
February 18: Gendered Power Dynamics in Ascetic Communities
March 18:  Conceptions of Masculinity
April 15: Cleanliness, Ritual, and Gender