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Georgia Frank

Georgia Frank

Charles A. Dana Professor of Religion; Director, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program
Religion , 301B Lawrence Hall
p 315-228-7694


BA, Barnard College, Columbia University; MTS, AM, PhD, Harvard University

Teaching Experience

Harvard University; College of the Holy Cross


Ancient Christianity


Ancient Christian pilgrimage, icons, relics, monasticism


My research centers on the role of bodies, places, and pictures in the ancient Christian imagination during the fourth through sixth centuries. This was a transitional and transformative time for ancient Christians (and new converts), as the previously banned religion became a religion tied to imperial power.

I am most interested in how Christians understood their relation to the material world. Can places be holy? Can the body be trusted or somehow trained to perceive or even reveal God? These questions are at the heart of The Memory of the Eyes: Pilgrims to Living Saints in Christian Late Antiquity (2000), which explores the role of the senses in early Christian pilgrims’ writings about their encounters with desert monastics and the biblical past.

Since the book, my attention has shifted from those who left home (e.g., pilgrims and monastics) to those who stayed put, namely, preachers and ordinary Christians. A central figure in my recent work is Romanos the Melodist, a sixth-century preacher from Constantinople. His sung sermons performed on feast days retold biblical events giving speech to new or neglected figures (e.g., Judas, the Virgin Mary, Peter, Satan, even personifications of Death).

I present my work in conferences on Early Christianity, Art History, Byzantine Studies, and Classics in the United States, France, Israel, and Britain.


  • “Memory and Forgetting in Romanos the Melodist’s ‘On the Newly Baptized,’” in Between Personal and Institutional Religion: Self, Doctrine, and Practice in Late Antique Eastern Christianity. Edited by Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony and Lorenzo Perrone. Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages series (Y. Hen, general editor). Turnhout: Brepols, 2013. Pp. 37-55.
  • “The Memory Palace of Marcellinus: Athanasius and the Mirror of the Psalms,” in Ascetic Culture: Essays in Honor of Philip Rousseau. Edited by Blake Leyerle and Robin Darling Young. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2013. Pp. 97-124.
  • “Sensing Ascension in Early Byzantium,” in Experiencing Byzantium: Papers from the 44th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, edited by Claire Nesbitt and Mark P. C. Jackson. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing, 2013. Pp. 293–309.
  • “Telling Jerusalem: Miracles and the Moveable Past in Late Antique Christianity,” in Objects in Motion: The Circulation of Religion and Sacred Objects in the Late Antique and Byzantine World. Edited by Hallie Meredith. British Archaeological Reports International Series 2247. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2011. Pp. 49-54.
  • “Death in the Flesh: Picturing Death’s Body and Abode in Late Antiquity,” in Looking Beyond: Visions, Dreams and Insights in Medieval Art and History. Edited by Colum Hourihane. State Park, Penn.; Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010. Pp. 58-74.
  • “Christ's Descent to the Underworld in Ancient Ritual and Legend,” in Apocalyptic Thought in Early Christianity, ed. Robert Daly. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2009. Pp. 211-26.
  • "L'eucharistie et la mémoire sensorielle selon Jean Chrysostome," in Pratiques de l’eucharistie dans les Églises d’Orient et d’Occident (Antiquité et Moyen Âge). Eds. Nicole Bériou, Béatrice Caseau, and Dominique Rigaux. Collection des Études Augustiniennes, série Moyen Âge et Temps Modernes, vols. 45-46. Paris: Institut d’Études Augustiniennes, 2009. Vol. 2, pp. 765-78.
  • "Pilgrimage," Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies.  Edited by Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David Hunter.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.  Pp. 826-43. 
  • "From Antioch to Arles: Lay Devotion in Context." In The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 2: Constantine to c. 600. Eds. Augustine Cassaday and Frederick Norris. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. 531-47. 
  • "Loca Sancta Souvenirs and the Art of Memory," in Pèlerinages et lieux saints dans l’antiquité et le moyen âge : mélanges offerts à Pierre Maraval. Eds. Béatrice Caseau, Jean-Claude Cheynet and Vincent Déroche. Paris : Travaux et Mémoires. Association des amis du Centre d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance, 2006. Pp. 193-201. 
  • "The Image in Tandem: Painting Metaphors and Moral Discourse in Late Antique Christianity." In The Subjective Eye: Essays in Culture, Religion, and Gender in Honor of Margaret R. Miles. Edited by Richard Valantasis et al.
  • Princeton Theological Monograph Series, 59. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2006. Pp. 33-47. 
  • "Romanos and the Night Vigil in the Sixth Century." In A People's History of Christianity, vol. 3: Byzantine Christianity. Ed. by Derek Krueger. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2006. Pp. 59-78. 
  • "Dialogue and Deliberation: The Making of the Sensory Self in the Hymns of Romanos the Melodist." In Religion and the Self in Antiquity. Ed. by David Brakke, Steve Weitzman, and Michael Satlow. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2005. Pp. 163-79.
  • "'Taste and See': The Eucharist and the Eyes of Faith in the Fourth Century," Church History 70 (2001): 619-43.
  • The Memory of the Eyes: Pilgrims to Living Saints in Christian Late Antiquity. (Transformation of the Classical Heritage, 30; Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).
  • "Macrina's Scar: Homeric Allusion and Heroic Identity in Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Macrina, "Journal of Early Christian Studies 8 (2000): 511-30
  • "The Pilgrim's Gaze in the Age before Icons," in Visuality before and beyond the Renaissance. Edited by Robert S. Nelson. (Cambridge Studies in New Art History and Criticism; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 98-115
  • "Miracles, Monks, and Monuments: The Historia Monachorum in Aegypto as Pilgrims' Tales" in Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt, David Frankfurter, ed. (REligions in the Greco-Roman World; Leiden: Brill, 1998), 483-505
  • "The Historia Monachorum and Ancient Travel Writing" in Studia Patristica 30 (1997)
  • "Pilgrims' Experience and Theological Challenge: Two Patristic Views" in Akten des XII. Internationalen Kongresses fur Christliche Archaologie (Bonn 22-28, September 1991)
  • Jahrbuch fur Antike und Christentum, Erganzungsbande, 20:1-2, 1995. Vol. 2, pp. 787-91


"The Memory of the Eyes: Pilgrimage to Desert Ascetics in the Christian East during the Fourth and Fifth Centuries"
Advisers: Susan Ashbrook Harvey (Brown University); Helmut Koester, Margaret Miles (Harvard)

Professional Experience

  • Anonymous reader for Patristic Monograph Series - University of California Press, Oxford University Press, University of North Carolina Press, Journal of Early Christian Studies, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Spiritus
  • Europe and the Mediterranean in Late Antiquity, Society of Biblical Literature, Steering Committee member (2005-2008)
  • Chair, Core 151: Western Traditions, Colgate University (2005-2008)
  • Sub-Editor (Byzantine and Eastern Christianity), Religious Studies Review (2005-2008)
  • Editorial Adviser, Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality (2000-present)
  • Member-at-Large, Governing Board, North American Patristics Society (2002-2005)
  • History of Christianity Section, American Academy of Religion, Co-chair (1999-2002), Steering Committee member (1997-1999)
  • Byzantine Studies Conference, Program Committee and Jury for Graduate Awards (1998-2000, 2008-present)
  • Acting Managing Editor, Harvard Theological Review and Harvard Dissertations in Religion (1990), Editorial Assistant (1987-1991)
  • Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA and Sart Mustafa, Turkey: Research Assistant in archives and publications division (1985-1987, 1990), Excavation Registrar, on-site, (1986, 1987)


  • Colgate Presidential Scholar
  • Member of Phi Beta Kappa
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2003)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities - American Academy in Rome Summer Seminar (2002)
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellow (1998-99)
  • American Association of University Women Post-Doctoral Fellowship (1998-99)
  • American Council of Learned Societies - Contemplative Practice Fellowship (1997)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend (1997)
  • Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (1991-92)
  • Harvard Graduate Student Council International Conference Grant (1991)
  • Harvard University Scholarship (1987-1993)
  • Archaeological Exploration of Sardis Travel Grant (1986, 1987)