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Virginia Burrus

Virginia Burrus


The Bishop W. Earl Ledden Professor and Director of Graduate Studies,
Religion

mvburrus@syr.edu

520 Hall of Languages
315.443.3861


Research and Teaching Interests

Professor Burrus specializes in the literary and cultural history of Christianity in late antiquity.  Her interests include: gender, sexuality, and the body; martyrdom and asceticism; ancient novels and hagiography; constructions of orthodoxy and heresy; histories of theology and historical theologies. 

Click here to download a high resolution faculty photo.

Courses

REL 205 Ancient Greek Religion
REL 209 Greco-Roman Religions
REL 300 Martyrs and Saints in Christian Tradition
REL 300 Christianity and Sexuality
REL 306 Early Christianities
REL 600 Ancient Ecotheologies?
REL 620 Textual Scripts in the Study of Religion

Education

PhD, History of Christianity, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley (1991)
MA, History of Christianity, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley (1984)
Studies in Theology, Georg-August Universität, Göttingen, Germany (1981-82)
BA, Classical Civilization, Yale University (1981)

Career

The Bishop W. Earl Ledden Professor of Religion, Syracuse University, 2013-present
Director of Graduate Studies, Syracuse University, 2016-present
Chair of the Graduate Division of Religion, Drew University, 2009-2013
Professor of Early Church History, Drew University, 2003-2013
Associate Professor of Early Church History, Drew University, 1996-2003
Assistant Professor of Early Church History, Drew University, 1991-1996

Books and Edited Volumes

Life of Saint Helia The Life of Saint Helia: Critical Edition, Translation, Introduction, and Commentary. Early Christian Texts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. (Co-author with Marco Conti)
seducing augustine

Seducing Augustine: Bodies, Desires, Confessions.  NY: Fordham University Press, 2010.  (Co-author with Mark Jordan and Karmen MacKendrick)

saving shame Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects. Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.
towards theology of eros

Toward a Theology of Eros.  NY: Fordham University Press, 2006.  (Co-editor with Catherine Keller)

late ancient christianity Late Ancient Christianity: A People’s History of Christianity, Volume 2.  Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005.  (Editor)
sex lives of saints The Sex Lives of Saints: An Erotics of Ancient Hagiography.  Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.
Czech translation: Sexuální životy svatých: Erotika středověké hagiografie, translated by Zuzana Gabajová. Prague: Academia, 2015. Czech translation: Sexuální životy svatých: Erotika středověké hagiografie, translated by Zuzana Gabajová. Prague: Academia, 2015.
La vie sexuelle des saints French translation:  La vie sexuelle des saints: L’art érotique de l’hagiographie ancienne, translated by Elsa Boyer.  Montrouge: Bayard, 2011.
la vita sexuelle saints

Italian translation:  La vita erotica dei Santi, translated by Marta Albertella. Genova: Il Melangolo, 2011.

Begotten Not Made

“Begotten, Not Made”: Conceiving Manhood in Late Antiquity.  Figurae: Reading Medieval Culture. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.

making of a heretic The Making of a Heretic: Gender, Authority, and the Priscillianist Controversy.  Transformation of the Classical Heritage. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
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Chastity as Autonomy: Women in the Stories of Apocryphal Acts.  Women in Religion. Lewiston & Queenston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1987.

Recent Articles

“Reading the Bride of Christ in Late Antiquity, and Now: Slippages and Subversions,” in Braut Christi: Familienformen in Europa im Spiegel der sponsa, ed. Susanna Elm and Barbara Vinken (Wilhelm Fink Verlag, forthcoming). 

“Torture, Truth, and the Witnessing Body: Reading Christian Martyrdom with Page duBois,” in Torture, Truth, and Slavery: Engaging the Work of Page duBois, ed. Albert Harrill, Special issue of Biblical Interpretation: A Journal of Contemporary Issues, 25.1 (2017). 

“Between Fragment and Compilation: A Virgin’s Vision of the Afterlife,” Sacris Erudiri 54 (2015) 201-224. With Marco Conti. 

“‘Nec sanabatur vulnus illud meum’ (Conf. 6.15): Trauma, Time, and Voice in Augustine’s Confessions,” Trauma and Traumatization in Individual and Collective Dimensions: Insights from Biblical Studies and Beyond, ed. Eve-Marie Becker, Jan Dochhorn, and Else Holt (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014), 100-110. 

“History, Theology, Orthodoxy, Polydoxy.”  Modern Theology 30 (2014) 7-16.

“Gender, Eros, and Pedagogy: Macrina’s Pious Household.”  Ascetic Culture, edited by Blake Leyerle and Robin Darling Young.  University of Notre Dame Press, 2013.  Pages 167-81.

“Seducing Theology.” Theology and Sexuality 18:2 (2013).

 
“Augustine, Rosenzweig, and the Possibility of Experiencing Miracle.”  Material Spirit, edited by Carl Good, Manuel Asensi, and Gregory Stallings.  New York: Fordham University Press, 2013.  Pages 94-110


“Nothing is Not One: Revisiting the ex nihilo.”  Modern Theology 29.2 (2013): 33-48.


“‘Honor the Fathers’: Exegesis and Authority in the Life of Saint Helia.” Asceticism and Exegesis in Early Christianity: The Reception of New Testament Texts in Ancient Ascetic Discourses, edited by Hans-Ulrich Wiedemann. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2013. Pages 445-57.


“‘The Passover Still Takes Place Today’: Exegesis, Asceticism, Judaism, and Origen’s On Passover.”  Asceticism and Exegesis in Early Christianity: The Reception of New Testament Texts in Ancient Ascetic Discourses, edited by Hans-Ulrich Wiedemann. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2013.  Pages 235-45.

 
“Bodies, Desires, Confessions: Shame in Plotinus, Antony, and Augustine.”  Shame Between Penance and Punishment, edited by Bénédicte Sère and Jörg Wettlaufer.  Florence:  SISMEL-Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2013. Pages 23-48.


“Augustine’s Bible.”  Ideology, Culture, and Translation, edited by Scott Elliott and Roland Boer.  Semeia Studies.  Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2012. Pages 69-82.


"Wyschogrod's Hand: Saints, Animality, and the Labor of Love." Philosophy Today (Winter 2011): 412-421.


“Seeing God in Bodies: Augustine, Rosenzweig, Wolfson.” Reading Forwards and Backwards: Postmodern Readings of Ancient Christian Texts, edited by Scot Douglass and Morwenna Ludlow.  London: T&T Clark, 2011.  Pages 44-59.

 
“2010 NAPS Presidential Address: ‘Fleeing the Uxorious Kingdom’: Augustine’s Queer Theology of Marriage.”  Journal of Early Christian Studies 19 (2011): 1-20.

 
“A Saint of One’s Own: Emmanuel Levinas, Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, and Eulalia of Mérida.”  L'Esprit Créateur 50 (2010): 6-20.  Special issue on “Sanctity,” edited by Cary Howie.


“Carnal Excess: Flesh at the Limits of Imagination.”  Journal of Early Christian Studies 17 (2009): 247-265.

Recent Invited Lectures and Presentations

"Biblical Media and the Writing Subject in a Late Ancient Christian Letter: Erotics and Performativity." Keynote speaker, conference on Evolving Textualities. Hebrew University, Jerusalem, June 2016.

“Queering Creation: Ecocritical Readings of Ancient Saints’ Lives.” Keynote speaker, Medieval Now conference. Tel Aviv University, April 2016.

“The Life of Constantina: Performativity, Pedagogy, Eros.” Conference on Holy Hero(in)es. Literary Constructions of Heroism in Late Antique and Early Medieval Hagiography. Ghent University, February 2016.

“Late Ancient Hagiography and the Dialogical Imagination: The Life of Saint Helia.” Ghent University, June 2015.
 

“Take the Life of Saint Helia, For Example: Hagiography, Exemplarity, and Gender.” Students, Followers, and Disciples: Aemulatio and Imitatio of Role Models in the Ancient Mediterranean. University of Cologne, June 2015.
 

“Queering Creation: Ecocritical Readings of Ancient Saints’ Lives.” University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, March 2015.
 

“Desiring Women: Female Homoeroticism in an Ancient Christian Novel.” Cornell University, October 2014.
 

“Gender, Genre, and Biblical Exemplarity in the Life of Saint Helia.” Praise and the Construction of Character in Late Antiquity.  Maynooth, Ireland, May 2013.


“Female Voice in Ancient Christian Texts.”  Medieval Studies Interdisciplinary Working Group and Seminar.  University of Notre Dame, January 2013.


“St. Helia Talks Back: Christianity and the Feminization of Rhetorical Voice.”  Yale Divinity School, September 2012.


“‘Nec sanabatur vulnus illud meum’ (Conf. 6:15): Trauma, Time, and Voice in Augustine’s Confessions.”  Trauma and Traumatization in and Beyond Biblical Literature.  Aarhus University, Denmark, June 2012.


“Desiring Women: Xanthippe, Polyxena, Rebecca.”  Sex and the Sacred.  Kings College, London, May 2012.


“St. Helia Talks Back: Christianity and the Feminization of Rhetorical Voice.”  Weltin Lecture in Early Christianity.  Washington University in St. Louis, April 2012.


“St. Helia Talks Back: Christianity and the Feminization of Rhetorical Voice.”  Gender and Women’s Studies Lecturer.  LeMoyne College, Syracuse, March 2012.


“Exegesis and Rhetorical Performance in the Life of St. Helia.”  Asceticism and New Testament Exegesis in Early Christianity.  Universität Siegen, Germany, October 2011.


“Hispania and Its Hidden Heretics: Is the Life of Helia a Priscillianist Work?”  Corpus Christi Late Roman Seminar.  Oxford, October 2011.


“Helia, Girl Sophist: Christianity and the Feminization of Rhetorical Voice.”  Oxford Center for Late Antiquity, Special Lecture, with the Corpus Christi Classical Seminars “God’s Sophists.” Oxford, October 2011.


“Saints and Other Animals: The Limits of Humanity.”  Marginal Persons and the Margins of Personhood.  Keynote Address.  Fordham University, April 2011.


“Wyschogrod’s Hand: Sainthood, Animality, and the Labor of Love.”  Conference in Memory of Edith Wyschogrod.  Rice University, Houston, March 2011.


“Augustine’s Queer Theology of Marriage.”  State University of New York at New Paltz, April 2011.


“Saints and the Doctrine of the Ex Nihilo: Jewish or Christian Things?” Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins.  University of Pennsylvania, February 2011.


“Bodies, Desires, Confessions: Shame in Plotinus, Antony, Augustine.”  Shame between punishment and penance: The social usages of shame in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times.  Paris Ouest Nanterre and German Historical Institute of Paris, October 2010.


“‘Fleeing the Uxorious Kingdom’: Augustine’s Queer Theology of Marriage.”  North American Patristics Society Presidential Address.  Chicago, May 2010.


“Nothing Is Not One: Revisiting the Ex Nihilo.”  Polydoxy: Theologies of the Manifold: Drew Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium IX, October 2009.


“Augustine, Rosenzweig, Wolfson.”  Reading Forwards and Backwards: An International Symposium on Postmodern Approaches to Early Christian Texts.  University of Colorado at Boulder, May 2009.


“What’s Queer about Christian Couples? Engaging Augustine’s Theology of Marriage.”  John E. Boswell Lecture.  Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, Pacific School of Religion, April 2009.


“‘Desire Prays’: Augustinian Seductions.”  Co-lecturer with Karmen MacKendrick.  Syracuse University, March 2009.


“Fleeing the Kingdom of Uxoriousness: Friendship, Sex, and Scripture in Augustine’s Confessions.” Medieval Sexuality.  UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Ahmanson, March 2009.


“Seducing Augustine.”  Co-lecturer with Karmen MacKendrick. Villanova University, February 2009.