Thecla Desiring and Desired
The chapter offers a close analysis of The Acts of Paul and Thecla, tracing how desire, restraint, and narrative transformation intersect with depictions of virginity, maternity, and masculinity. Select comparisons are made to the Greek romances Daphnis and Chloe and Leucippe and Clitophon as well as to The Acts of Peter and The Acts of Andrew. In Thecla’s fast-paced tale with minimal interiority, desire destabilizes the protagonist and propels conversion: social reidentification, ritual act, changes in language, changes in the self. Self-restraint and resurrection (companion values in this narrative) are not the antidotes to Thecla’s desire, but its objects. The reading is also informed by selections from several literary interpreters, including Judith Butler and Julia Kristeva, as they draw from psychoanalytic views of desire’s displacements, movements and returns.
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