Assistant Professor Dr. Higgins awarded SSHRC Grant for upcoming project on the early cult of the Virgin Mary

September 08, 2020

We are delighted to share the news that SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies' Hellenic Studies Professor of Aegean and Mediterranean Societies and Cultures, Dr. Sabrina Higgins, has recently been awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant for her project, The Early Cult of the Virgin and the Hegemony of the Text.

Dr. Higgins will receive $32,598 for her project which will confront contemporary scholarship on the Virgin Mary, which largely gives precedence to the textual evidence for Marian veneration (i.e. liturgy, hymns) as the determinant for establishing the early cult of the Virgin. In this project, she will adopt a novel methodology which prioritizes the material culture related to the early cult of the Virgin over the surviving literary attestations of cult, adopting the eighth century CE as the chronological limit of these discussions.

In doing so, this project highlights the tyranny of the text in contemporary discussions of the early cult of the Virgin, advocating instead for an approach that interrogates a variety of source materials, including the archaeological (churches, monasteries) and iconographic evidence for Marian veneration – which only appear with any frequency after the fifth century – to ultimately problematize the traditional chronological parameters that have emerged from the predominantly textual-­historical approach that has dominated the field of Mariology.

This will be Dr. Higgins' second project on the cult of the Virgin Mary. Her first, the Digital Mary Project, supported by a Digital Humanities Innovation Lab Partnership Grant, collects and digitizes all known visual materials relating to the Virgin from the Mediterranean in the Late Antique and Early Medieval periods. 

Learn more about Dr. Higgins and her research on our faculty profile page.

For more information about the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies and its programs, please visit our Media page or subscribe to our email list so you never miss an update!