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Dawn LaValle Norman

College positions:
Visiting Fellow
Australian Catholic University
Contact details:

Dr Dawn LaValle Norman

Dr LaValle Norman’s 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 her work focuses on the history of the philosophical dialogue. She has been a Research Fellow at Australian Catholic University since 2017 after a Junior Research Fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford (2015-17), and a PhD in Classics at Princeton (2015).

Her 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.

Her current 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. Her 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. Some of the work of this project was published as the Cambridge Element Early Christian Women in 2022 for the ‘Women in the History of Philosophy’ series. During her Visiting Fellowship at Clare Hall, Dr LaValle Norman will be working on the central monograph for this project.

She also researches the role that Aristotle plays in the later development of the dialogic tradition in both Greek and Latin. As part of this project, she is looking at Boethius’ First Commentary on Porphyry’s Isagoge, a neglected early work of Boethius and his only philosophical dialogue besides The Consolation of Philosophy.

Dr LaValle Norman will be joined during her Visiting Fellowship by her husband, Dr Jack Norman, who is writing a book on the reception of Aquinas in modern theology and philosophy, especially by a group of thinkers called the Grammatical Thomists.

Select publications

  • Early Christian Women, Cambridge Elements: Women in the History of Philosophy (CUP 2022)
  • Hypatia of Alexandria: Her Context and Legacy (Mohr Siebeck 2021)
  • The Aesthetics of Hope in Late Greek Imperial Literature: Methodius of Olympus’ Symposium and the Crisis of the Third Century (CUP 2019)
  • Courtroom Rhetoric in Imperial and Late Antique Dialogues, in Articulating Resistance under the Roman Empire ed. by Daniel Jolowicz and Jaś Elsner (CUP 2023)
  • Contesting Aristotle: Science, Theology and the Resurrection of the Body in Methodius of Olympus’ De Resurrectione and the Dialogue of Adamantius, Vigiliae Christianae 76.2 (2022): 121-143
  • Becoming Female: Marrowy Semen and the Formative Mother in Methodius of Olympus’ Symposium, Journal of Early Christian Studies 27.2 (Summer 2019): 185-209
  • Feasting at the End: The Eschatological Symposia of Methodius of Olympus and Julian the Apostate, Studia Patristica 94, Vol. 20 (2017): 269-284
  • Divine Breastfeeding: Milk, Blood and Pneuma in Clement of Alexandria’s Paedagogus, Journal of Late Antiquity 8.2 (Fall 2015), 322-336

Select awards

  • The Female Voice in Ancient Philosophical Dialogues, Discovery Early Career Research Award, Australian Research Council, 2022-24
  • Lewis-Gibson Visiting Fellow, Cambridge Centre for Greek Studies, April-June 2023
  • Innovation Fellow with the Anchoring Innovation Gravitation Grant at the University of Utrecht, 2020
  • Fellow by Examination (Junior Research Fellow), Magdalen College, Oxford, 2015-17