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

Email: dawn.lavallenorman@acu.edu.au

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 Emotionsfor which I have created the project “The Emotions of Isolation” .

Select publications

Books and edited volumes

  • (2023 forthcoming) A Cultural History of Christianity. Volume 1: Antiquity (100-800 CE).  Dawn LaValle Norman (ed.) (Bloomsbury).
  • (2022) Early Christian Women (Cambridge University Press) for the Cambridge Elements: Women in the History of Philosophy Series.
  • (2020) Hypatia of Alexandria: Her Context and Legacy, Dawn LaValle Norman and Alex Petkas (eds.) (Mohr Siebeck).
  • (2019) The Aesthetics of Hope in Late Imperial Greek Literature: Methodius of Olympus’ Symposium and the Crisis of the Third Century. Series: Greek Culture in the Roman World (Cambridge University Press) .

Journal articles

  • (2021) “Contesting Aristotle: Science, Theology and the Resurrection of the Body in Methodius of Olympus’ De Resurrectione and the Dialogue of Adamantius” Vigiliae Christianae, advance article.
  • (2019) "Becoming Female: Marrowy Semen and the Formative Mother in Methodius of Olympus’ Symposium”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 27.2: 185-205.
  • (2017) “Feasting at the End: The Eschatological Symposia of Methodius of Olympus and Julian the Apostate”, Studia Patristica 94.20: 269-284.
  • (2015) “Divine Breastfeeding: Milk, Blood and Pneuma in Clement of Alexandria’s Paedagogus”, Journal of Late Antiquity 8.2: 322-336.


  • (forthcoming 2024) “Gender, the Life-Cycle and the Human Body” in A Cultural History of Christianity. Volume 1: Antiquity (100-800 CE). (Bloomsbury).
  • (forthcoming) “Christian Theology in the Context of Classical Traditions of Thought,” in Cambridge History of Early Christian Theology, (ed.) Lewis Ayres (Cambridge University Press).
  • (forthcoming 2021) “The Role of Women in Late Imperial Dialogues” in The Intellectual World of Christian Late Antiquity: Reshaping Classical Traditions. M.  Champion, M. Crawford and L. Ayres (eds) (Cambridge University Press).
  • (forthcoming 2021) “Dialoging with the Enemy: Competition and Resistance in Imperial Dialogues,” in Articulating Resistance Under the Roman Empire,  Jaś Elsner and Daniel Jolowicz, (eds) (Cambridge University Press).
  • (2017) “Coming Late to the Table: Methodius in the Context of Sympotic Literary Development,” in Methodius of Olympus: State of the Art and New Perspectives (ed.) K. Bracht (de Gruyter): 18-37.

Accolades and awards

  • (2022-2024) Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DE220100854) The Female Voice in Ancient Philosophical Dialogues (AUD 380,204)
  • 2017-2023 Innovation Fellow Visiting Scholar, University of Utrecht, Feb-April 2020, as part of Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science Gravitation Grant  
  • 2019 Durham Residential Research Library Visiting Fellowship
  • 2013 Fondation Hardt (Geneva) Research Scholarship
  • 2012-2013 Donald and Mary Hyde Research Fellowship (for study in England)
  • 2012 Cotsen Junior Teaching Fellowship, Princeton Spring
  • 2005 The Classics Prize, awarded to the top graduating senior in Classics, University of Chicago

Public engagement

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ACU Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

Mailing address

C/- 115 Victoria Pde
Fitzroy, VIC, 3065.