Dr Dawn LaValle Norman
Biblical and Early Christian Studies
Areas of expertise: Early Christianity; women and gender; literary studies; Greek literature; philosophical dialogues; Classical literature; ancient medicine; ancient science
HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Provisional
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-3354-1298
Location: ACU Melbourne Campus
AB (Chicago) (Classics and Fundamentals), MA (Notre Dame) (Early Christian Studies), PhD (Princeton) (Classics and Hellenic Studies).
I came to ACU in 2017 after a Junior Research Fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford, having finished my Ph.D. in Classics at Princeton in 2015. My research centres on the Greek literature of the Roman Empire during the transitional period from the first to the fourth centuries CE, looking especially at the conversation between Christian and non-Christian literary texts during this period. Much of my work focuses on the history of the philosophical dialogue. My first book presented a new reading of the fascinating Symposium of Methodius of Olympus, a third century CE Christian rewriting of Plato’s work that made radical changes in gender, topic and aesthetic from the Platonic original.
My next project, funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) ‘The Female Voice in Ancient Philosophical Dialogues’, analyses the role that women play in philosophical dialogues from Plato to Augustine, tracking when women are allowed to speak and upon which topics they are deemed experts in the ancient and late ancient worlds. My argument is that by following the role of women in these works, you can also follow the rise and fall of certain topics gendered feminine. For this project, I was chosen as an Innovation Fellow with the Anchoring Innovation Gravitation Grant at the University of Utrecht during 2020. Some of the work of this project will be published as a Cambridge Element in 2022 for the ‘Women in the History of Philosophy’ series edited by Jacqueline Broad.
I am also working on the role that Aristotle plays in the later development of the dialogic tradition in both Greek and Latin. As part of this project, I have plans to work on Boethius’ First Commentary on Porphyry’s Isagoge, a neglected early work of Boethius and his only philosophical dialogue besides The Consolation of Philosophy.
In addition, I continue to publish on the use of theological metaphors based on ancient scientific understandings of reproduction and birth, a project tentatively called “The Physiology of the Spiritual Body: Blood, Milk and Semen in Early Christian Literature”. I am the Deputy Node Leader of the ACU node of the Australian Centre for the History of Emotions, for which I have created the project “The Emotions of Isolation” .