RELS 367: Women and Sexuality in the Christian Tradition


Reader requirements: Scholars and researchers with a background in religious studies, gender studies, women’s studies, history of the Christian tradition in general (not denominational)


  1. Course Information
  2. Schedule
  3. Giving Feedback

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Jennifer Knust

Christian scripture, literature, and art abounds with female figures. From the Virgin Mary to female saints, the Christian tradition has memorialized extraordinary women as models for lay women. How did Christianity challenge and preserve norms for female behavior? How did ascetic women and female martyrs transgress gender expectations? This course navigates the pitfalls and opportunities that the study of women offers for understanding the development of Christian belief and institutions. We will trace how gender was theorized and normative behavior prescribed and enforced within the periods of Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, Reformation, and modern day.

Student Writing:

What are students writing? Historiography (One Woman’s Story Project)

Target audience: Peers

Where would such writing typically be found? Magazines, web sites that feature long-form essays, anthologies.

Why would someone read it? Because they are interested in Christian engagement with the categories “sexuality” and “women”.


Schedule for Student – Reader Interactions

Deadlines pertaining to the Duke Reader Project only:

Students need to sign up for participation as soon as possible but at the latest by September 16, 2019.

An introductory meeting (between the student and their reader) should take place during the first week of October 2019. This can be a brief interaction where you tell each other a bit about yourselves.

Interaction #1: Students will submit a draft proposal to readers and schedule a meeting after October 18 but before November 2. Readers will meet with students to discuss the draft–ideally within one week of receiving it, but no later than November 2. (Discuss the idea: What is interesting about the idea? How might the idea or focus be adjusted to make the project more coherent, understandable, or relevant? Sources that might help the student frame or develop the idea?)

Interaction #2: Students send a substantive draft of their essay to their readers at the latest by November 30. Readers will meet with students to discuss the draft at the latest on December 4. (Readers should focus on the big picture: How is the piece working? What parts are compelling? Where do you get lost, confused or have difficulty following the logic of the essay? Where do you want to know more?  What might benefit from rethinking? Readers may choose to also give written feedback prior to meeting. If so, students should receive this at least one day before the meeting to read the comments and prepare questions for the reader.) At this stage, readers should also help students polish their writing. Focus should be on clarity of expression, organization and so on.

Interaction #3–optional: If student and reader have the time and interest for another round, they may meet between October 18 – December 1 to discuss the presentation.

All interactions can be via written comments (no “Track Changes”) and/or real-time meeting.

Consider doing a Think-Aloud Response, which is a great way to help students understand your experience as a reader. Avoid general line editing, but let students know if there are specific editing issues that reoccur.


Giving feedback in the Reader Project

Giving feedback is the activity around which the entire project is designed. You may have considerable professional experience giving feedback on writing — whether to colleagues, employees, or other contexts — or perhaps this is an fairly novel experience. Given the aims and nature of the Reader Project, we are hoping that our volunteers engage with student writing in a particular way–one that is quite different from what is conventionally done in other contexts. Please take a few minutes to read our Guide to Giving Feedback!