Diane Shane Fruchtman is a scholar of Christian thought, specializing in medieval Christianity (defining "medieval" broadly: from Constantine to Luther) and focused on the Latin west. Her research explores rhetoric and the realities it helps construct, particularly in the realms of violence and martyrdom. Her broader questions, which often take her beyond the medieval, are: How do representations of violence serve to create identities and communities? And what are the consequences of forming communities and identities through this violent imagery?
Dr. Fruchtman received her doctorate from Indiana University in 2014. Her dissertation ("Living in a Martyrial World: Living Martyrs and the Creation of Martyrial Consciousness in the Late Antique Latin West") examined the attempts of fifth century Latin authors to make martyrdom accessible to the masses, despite the end of official persecution. Through rhetorical techniques and outright advocacy for martyrs who did not die in persecution, Prudentius, Paulinus of Nola, and Augustine of Hippo each attempted to create a new paradigm of martyrdom that did not require the martyr’s death. While their views did not ultimately prevail, the intricacies of their discourse illuminate the variety of ways that martyrdom is and can be mobilized to construct new, community-creating worldviews, and highlight the inadeqacy of scholarly definitions of martyrdom that hinge on death. She is currently working on a book, Surviving Martyrdom: Martyrdom without Death in the Late Ancient Latin West and Beyond, that will expand upon this research.