A Cyborg Initiation? Liturgy and Gender in Carolingian East Francia

  • Felice Lifshitz
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Every event and action (including thought) occurs in a particular place.1 Nevertheless, that fact is not accorded equal weight in all historical explorations. While the preferred method among economic and social historians is immersion in archival sources of indisputable relevance to a given locality, scholars who specialize in other aspects of life have less often considered attention to local variety as a sine qua non of their methodology. Whereas certain aspects of religious belief and practice, most notably saints’ cults, have been subjected to local or regional analysis,2 scholarship on another key facet of religious experience, namely the liturgy, has been relatively impervious to the importance of local and regional specificity. Rather than looking for variety, historians of Christian liturgy have generally been primarily interested in the construction of regionally undifferentiated emplotments of change over time. With specific reference to the history of baptism, a common trajectory runs as follows: Augustine of Hippo’s doctrine of congenitally transmitted Original Sin soon leads to the universal introduction of infant baptism occurring soon after an individual birth, a practice that strips ethical content from the baptismal rite, rendering it an operation performed on a passive baby, as well as a ceremony primarily concerned with the reation of fictive kinship bonds among the active adults.3


Ninth Century Grammatical Form Initiation Rite Christian Society Masculine Form 
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© Celia Chazelle and Felice Lifshitz 2007

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  • Felice Lifshitz

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