Theatron and theoria: Vision, visuality, and religious spectatorship

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Patricia Cox Miller


Vision, Visuality, Religious spectatorship, Spectatorship, Queer

Subject Categories

Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | Visual Studies


This dissertation concerns metaphors of vision as they relate to religious identity. Given the importance of "seeing" in religious practice in general, be it icons, statues, mandalas, or paintings, one may argue that there is a transformative experience at the heart of religious seeing. I argue that religious visuality is fundamentally involved with the negotiation and communication implicit in vision itself and I investigate this practice through the theory of identification. Contrary to models such that describe vision as a split between image and gaze, theories and metaphors found in ancient Greek and contemporary Queer film theory conceive of vision as a negotiation between seer and seen. This is an investigation into viewing practices, specifically practices that reject what Donna Haraway has called the "god-trick" of seeing, or what Michel Foucault has called a "Panopticonism" of sight. This dissertation aims to rethink the Panopticon, to argue that to understand a religious visuality one cannot theorize a complete severing of seer and seen.


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