Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)



First Advisor

Nerina Rustomji

Second Advisor

Tracey-Anne Cooper

Third Advisor

Mauricio Borrero


This dissertation investigates textual representation of the body, gender, and sexuality in Armenian chronicles produced between the fifth and eleventh centuries CE. In so doing, it reconstructs the development of Armenian somatology between Zoroastrian and Islamic suzerainties. Specifically, the dissertation examines the modalities by which the body functioned to medieval Armenian cognition as the locus of identity and alterity through the deployment of such devices as the following, to each of which is devoted a chapter: masculinity, femininity, archetypes of sexual morality, legislation of sexual conduct, sexual experientiality (in both temporal and eschatological dimensions), anatomy, and violence. As such, the body operated visibly in medieval Armenian subjectivity as a definitionally ethnicized object whose value was mediated by its gender assignment (and conformity thereto), carnal continence, spiritual obedience, and corporal vulnerability. The dissertation asserts in conclusion that medieval Armenian traditors directly positioned native purity, articulated as the containment of carnal impulsions and rejection of sensory excess, against foreign intemperance and incontinence. These inclinations to be contained included those not only sexual but dietetic, emotional, and even verbal. In this way, these auteurs operationalized the body to dissimilate Armenian ipseity from intrusive exogeneity. This research finds, secondarily, that the genre of medieval Armenian historical writing was characterized by a pervasive but tacit prohibition against direct acknowledgment of the female body, discussion of which is instead conspicuously (and often awkwardly) displaced onto the more socially acceptable male body or else onto an insentient object of analogy. Finally, the dissertation situates medieval Armenian medical consciousness within a broader regional context, considering it alongside contemporaneous Greek, Persian, and Arabic somatological discourse.