Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Brad Weiss

Committee Members

Jonathan Glasser

Kathleen E. Jenkins


This paper is the result of 14 months of research at St. Bede Parish in Williamsburg, Virginia. Though metaphors are used frequently by pious parishioners, it is the church hierarchy who holds the keys to their meanings. In fact, parishioners employ this coded religious discourse for the precise reason that, through it, church voices dominate and authorize their everyday experience. Chunks of discourse, such as "body of Christ" metaphors, act as flexible authority, passed around the community. Parishioners are subject to a moral framework authorized by the clergy. This authority is ultimately grounded in the sacrament of transubstantiation, a ritual with a decidedly constructed history. Reproductive decision-making provides an arena for the deployment of the most powerful food/body discourse. Moral imperatives against reproductive technologies uphold the theological duality of female/body and male/soul, and transubstantiation. The church exercises power through language ideology on the very bodies of parishioners.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Thesis is part of Honors ETD pilot project, 2008-2013. Migrated from Dspace in 2016.

On-Campus Access Only