Associate Professor Michael Champion
Late-Antique and Early Christian Studies
Acting Director, Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
Associate Dean (Research), Theology and Philosophy
Areas of Expertise: Early Christianity; late-antique and medieval history; ancient philosophy; Classical to Byzantine cultural and intellectual history; history of emotions; history of violence; Classical receptions
HDR Supervisor accreditation status: Full
ORCID ID: 0000-0003-3038-6648
Phone: +61 3 9230 8226
Location: ACU Melbourne Campus
BSc., BA(Hons), MA (Melb), BD(Hons), AKC, PhD (Lond)
I specialise in late-antique and early Christian studies and the philosophy, history, culture, and reception of the ancient Mediterranean world up to Byzantium. I am a member of the Biblical and Early Christian Studies and Medieval and Early Modern Studies Programs of the IRCI.
I welcome PhD students across these areas and especially in history of education, history of emotions, health humanities (especially history and ethics), and the religious, cultural and intellectual history of late antiquity and Byzantium. My ACU students have studied diverse topics including historical and constructive accounts of compassion and suffering in the context of end-of-life ethics, late-antique Latin literature, philosophy and science, Cyril of Alexandria’s thought, and Irenaeus’ account of divine simplicity. My students have gone on to successful careers in academia and education.
My current research investigates traditions of classical education, ethics, and law, drawing on history of emotions and reception studies. In these projects, I study early Christian accounts and sites of human flourishing, late-antique education and justifications for classical language learning, the work emotions do in different educational contexts, and social laboratories and changing conceptions of justice and equity.
I joined ACU after degrees in Mathematical Physics, Classics, Late-Antique Studies and Theology in Melbourne and London and teaching Classics and Medieval Studies at the University of Western Australia (2009–2015). In 2016, I was an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and I was Director of ACU’s Node of that Research Centre (2019–2022).
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- (2023 forthcoming) The Intellectual World of Late-Antique Christianity: Reshaping Classical Traditions . Lewis Ayres, Michael Champion, and Matthew Crawford (eds). (Cambridge University Press).
- (2019) Before Emotion: The Language of Feeling 400–1800. Juanita Feros Ruys, Michael Champion, and Kirk Essary (eds), (Routledge).
- (2017) Cultural Perceptions of Violence in the Hellenistic World. Michael Champion and Lara O’Sullivan (eds), (Routledge).
- (2015) Understanding Emotions in Early Europe. Michael Champion and Andrew Lynch (eds), (Brepols).
- (2017) ‘Paideia as Humility and Becoming Godlike in Dorotheos of Gaza’, Journal of Early Christian Studies 25.3: 441–469.
- (2016) and Garrod, R., Haskell, Y. and Ruys, J. F., ‘But Were They Talking about Emotions? Affectus, affectio and the History of Emotions’, Rivista Storica Italiana 128: 521–543. Commissioned essay for a special thematic issue.
- (2014) ‘The Siege of Rhodes and the Ethics of War’, Ancient History Bulletin 28.3–4 : 99–111.
- (2023) ‘Violence and Genocide in the Hellenistic World’. In Cambridge World History of Genocide, 3 vols, edited by Ben Kiernan, Tracy Lemos, and Tristan Taylor. Volume 1: Genocide in the Ancient, Medieval, and Premodern Worlds. (Cambridge University Press), 257–277.
- (2023) ‘Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Transformation in the Thought of Michael Psellos’. In The Neoplatonists and their Heirs: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim . Eva Anagnostou-Laotides and Ken Parry (eds), (Brill), 211–231.
- (2020) ‘Philosophy as Transformation in Early Christian Thought’. In Eastern Christianity and Late-Antique Philosophy, Eva Anagnostou-Laotides and Ken Parry (eds), (Brill), 133–149.
- (2019) ‘From Affectus to Affect Theory and Back Again’. In Before Emotion: The Language of Feeling 400–1800, Juanita Feros Ruys, Michael Champion, and Kirk Essary (eds), (Routledge), 240–256.
- (2019) with Miranda Stanyon, ‘“A Possession for Eternity”: Thomas De Quincey’s Feeling for War’. In Writing War in Britain and France, 1370–1854: A History of Emotions , Stephanie Downes, Katrina O’Loughlin, and Andrew Lynch (eds), (Routledge), 219–237.
- (2019) ‘Tradition and Habituation in Rhetorical and Monastic Education at Gaza’. In Learning Cities in Late Antiquity. The Local Dimension of Education , Jan R. Stenger (ed.), ( Routledge), 212–229.
- (2017) ‘“A Pleasure to Gaze on Great Conflicts’: Violence and Epicurean Philosophy’. In Cultural Perceptions of Violence in the Hellenistic World, M.W. Champion and Lara O’Sullivan (eds), (Routledge), 157–173.
- (2017) ‘Reframing Neoplatonism in Zacharias Scholasticus’ Ammonius’. In L’École de Gaza: Espace littéraire et identité culturelle dans l’Antiquité tardive , Eugenio Amato, Aldo Corcella, and Delphine Lauritzen (eds). Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 249 / Bibliothèque de Byzantion 13. (Peeters), 99–116.
- (2017) ‘Translating Dorotheus of Gaza: From Gaza to Humanist Europe’. In Byzantine Culture in Translation, Amelia Brown and Bronwen Neil (eds), (Brill), 177–191.
- (2017) ‘“War is the Father and King of All”: Discourses, Experiences, and Theories of Hellenistic Violence’. In Cultural Perceptions of Violence in the Hellenistic World, edited by M.W. Champion and L. O’Sullivan, (Routledge), 1–20.
- (2015) ‘Representing Emotions in Three Byzantine Orations of Michael Psellos’. In Understanding Emotions in Early Europe, A. Lynch and M.W. Champion (eds), (Brepols), 27–50.
- (2015) ‘Understanding Emotions: “The Things They Left Behind”’. In Understanding Emotions in Early Europe, Michael Champion and Andrew Lynch edited by idem. (Brepols), ix–xxxiv.
- (2014) ‘“The Academy and the Lyceum are Among Us”: Plato and Platonism in the Writings of Aeneas, Zacharias and Procopius’. In Plato in the Third Sophistic, Ryan Fowler (ed.). Millenium-Studien: Studien zu Kultur und Geschichte des ersten Jahrtausends n. Chr. (De Gruyter), 259–282.
- (2014) ‘Grief, Body and Soul in Gregory of Nyssa’. In Conjunctions of Mind, Soul and Body from Plato to the Enlightenment , D. Kambaskovic (ed.). History of the Philosophy of Mind Series. (Springer), 99–118.
The Ancient Today: Living Traditions of Classical Language Education (2022–2025)
Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP220100370) ($323,407)
Chief Investigators: Prof. Yasmin Haskell (UWA); Prof. Joe LoBianco (Melbourne); Assoc. Prof. Michael Champion (ACU)
Partner Investigators: Dr Arlene Holmes Henderson (Oxford); Prof. Guoxiang Peng (Zhejiang); Assoc. Prof. Mattia Salvini (International Buddhist College); Dr Antonia Ruppel (Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich).
This project aims to compare, for the first time, ancient language education across world cultures with ‘classical’ literatures. It expects to illumine the purpose and value of classical language education in Chinese, Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit historically and within global education systems today by comparing pedagogic ideals and practices across times and cultures. It aims to test the potential of inclusive classical language learning to boost educational outcomes for disadvantaged students. Other expected outcomes include two books, scholarly articles, education policy reports, and PhD student training. This should strengthen intercultural understanding and benefit school students, educators, policy makers, and the wider public.
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions
Associate Investigator, 2016
Director, ACU Node, 2019–2022
Emotions shape individual, community and national identities. The Centre’s mission is to provide leadership in worldwide humanities research into how societies have understood, experienced, expressed and performed emotions in pre-modern Europe, and how this long history impacts on contemporary Australia. ACU research in this area continues under the the umbrella of the Australian Chapter of the International Society for the History of Emotions, with current projects on emotions and clinical communication and emotions of the night in late antiquity.
Flourishing in Early Christianity
Australian Catholic University Research Fund, 2022–2026
An international five-year project that integrates historical, literary, and theological inquiry into the multi-faceted reality of human flourishing in ancient Christianity.
Modes of Knowing and Ordering of Knowledge in Early Christianity
Australian Catholic University Research Fund, 2017–2022
Chief Investigators: Lewis Ayres (Durham/ACU); Michael Champion (ACU); Matthew Crawford (ACU); Jane Heath (Durham); Andrew Radde-Gallwitz (Notre Dame).
This project explored ‘modes of knowing’ constructed by Greek, Latin and Syriac Christians 100-700 CE in relation to contemporary theological, philosophical, medical and rhetorical discourses, social practices (asceticism, pilgrimage, liturgies), imperial and institutional power structures, and the material world of early Christianity (relics, sacred texts).
Teaching and supervision
2023–Jennifer Budd. ‘Romanitas, Africanitas and Latinity in the Exile Literature of Late-Antique North Africa’ (with Michael Hanaghan).
2023–Nathan McClenaghan. ‘Disciplinary Boundaries in Late Antiquity: Natural Philosophy and Theology in John Philoponus’ (with Matt Crawford).
2022–Junyang Ng. ‘The Brief Form as Philosophical Guidance for Worldly Conduct: A Comparative Study of Premodern Latin, Chinese, and Sanskrit (Con)texts’ (with Yasmin Haskell, UWA).
2021—Geetanjali Arora. ‘Reconceptualising Suffering in Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Through Compassion’ (with David Kirchhoffer and Jonathan Zecher).
2019—Thomas Pietsch. ‘Cyril of Alexandria’s Liturgical Exegesis in De Adoratione’ (with Matthew Crawford and Jonathan Zecher).
Dr Jon Simons. ‘Divine Simplicity in the Theology of Irenaeus’ (with Matthew Crawford and Lewis Ayres).
Dr Judith Nichols. ‘Jerome’s Women: Creating Identity and Fashioning Scholars’ (with Neil O’Sullivan, UWA).
Dr Nathan Leber. ‘Portraits of Character: Depictions of Cassius and Brutus in the Correspondence of Cicero’ (with Neil O’Sullivan, UWA).
Undergraduate and Postgraduate Coursework
At ACU, I convene the module ‘Sources, Methods, and Theories in Classics and Ancient History’ for MPhil and PhD students. I have also lectured in early Christian thought.
At UWA, I was awarded faculty and school teaching awards for successful undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and staff supervision across units in Classics and Ancient History (including Greek and Latin literature and language, ancient history and philosophy, and Classical receptions), Medieval Studies, and Communication Skills.
I am available for school visits supporting national curriculum in history and philosophy.
Classical Association of Victoria, Executive Committee (2016–).
‘Yield, Old Name’. Review of Ravenna: Capital of Empire, crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin. Allen Lane, 2020. Australian Book Review no. 429. March 2021.
Australasian Society for Classical Studies, Publications Manager for