Title

Queer Eye for the Ascetic Guy? Homoeroticism, Children, and the Making of Monks

Document Type

Conference Presentation

Department

Religious Studies

Conference Title

Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and American Academy of Religion (AAR)

Location

San Diego, CA

Conference Dates

November 17-20, 2007

Date of Presentation

11-19-2007

Abstract

A famous instruction about children in monasteries reads: “Do not bring young boys here. Four churches in Scetis are deserted because of boys.” From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, this apophthegm reveals the presence of homoeroticism in early Egyptian asceticism and anxieties about the homoerotic, especially erotic encounters with children. This paper will examine the construction of male sexuality in early Egyptian monasticism. The masculine ideal builds upon certain classical ideals of masculinity, especially the control of the passions, but purports to eschew classical models of eroticism in which the adolescent male represents the ideal sexual partner. However, many of these sources are designed to be recited or retold as edifying ascetic principles; despite their overt disavowal of sexual contact between men and boys, the retelling and rereading of these texts keeps homoeroticism and the representation of boys as sexually desirable objects alive in the ascetic imagination.

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