Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award Winner (DECRA)
‘The Female Voice in Ancient Philosophical Dialogues’
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 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. 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 and a Lewis-Gibson Fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Greek Studies in 2023. A video of a public lecture I gave while a Lewis-Gibson Fellow can be found below. Some of the work of this project was published as a Cambridge Element in 2022 for the ‘Women in the History of Philosophy’ series edited by Jacqueline Broad.
I am also researchingthe role that Aristotle plays in the later development of the dialogic tradition in both Greek and Latin. As part of this project, I am 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.
I came to ACU in 2017 after a Junior Research Fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford, and a Ph.D. in Classics at Princeton (2015).
Methodius wrote dialogues that attempted to reorient the gaze of a generation from theclassical past to a future he believed to be even more real. To do do, he creatively adapts the readers' expectations of the genres of dialogue, sympotic literature, rhetoric and poetry.
This short book explores three Christian women who were called philosophers in ancient texts: Thecla, Macrina the Younger and Monica. It explores how their depictions varies depending on whether they are characters in biographies or dialogues.
Hypatia of Alexandria is the most famous ancient female philosopher. However, she is better known for her gruesome death than her contributions during her life. This edited collection expands our knowledge about Hypatia by turning focus on the many ancient sources and modern receptions that provide a more rounded assessment of her life and contributions.
Ephraim Nissan, Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni (SMSR) 87 (2021): 756-771.
The female voice
Discovery Early Career Research Award
Australian Research Council (DE220100854)
'The Female Voice' is a multi-year project devoted to conceptualising and communicating how a major innovation was accepted in the ancient world, when women for the first time began to serve as intellectual role-models for both men and women. Through articles, a major monograph, a theatre prize, and public engagement, I will craft a ground-breaking narrative of female intellectuals over 800 years of history. The expected outcome is a new history of the role women played in the intellectual life in the ancient world, and a new understanding of how their voices were used as authorities on certain issues in philosophy and the good life.
The Australian Research Council has funded the creation of 'The Diotima Prize' ($5,000 x 3), awarded to three one-act plays in 2024, in connection with my DECRA project “The Female Voice in Ancient Philosophical Dialogues.”
The ancient Greeks invented a new way of writing philosophy as a dramatic conversation. Yet women were rarely allowed to join the stage in ancient philosophical dramas. My research probes the historical roots of women's marginalisation in philosophical conversations from the Greek tradition into the modern day. Why is philosophy still so male-dominated?
Along with my collaborators, Jamaica Zuanetti and Yogashree Thirunavukarasu, I ran a series of workshops in the first half of 2023 thatprovided provocations from the ancient world to inform modern one-act plays that reflect on the relationship between gender and the life of the mind. The winners will be announced in July 2023.
The Diotima Prize will bring new voices onto the philosophical stage by supporting the creation of dramatic works that inspire us to rethink what it means to be a philosopher.
“The Role of Women in Late Imperial Dialogues” in The Intellectual World of Christian Late Antiquity: Reshaping the Classical Tradition, 100-600 CE. Edited by Lewis Ayres, Matthew Crawford and Michael Champion (in press, expected publication Sept. 2023)
“Christian Theology in the Context of Classical Traditions of Thought,” in Cambridge History of Early Christian Theology, ed. Lewis Ayres. Cambridge University Press (contracted; article submitted July 2021).
“Identification and Distance in Lucian’s Dialogues of the Courtesans: Subjects and their Absences” in The Cambridge Companion to Lucian, ed. Simon Goldhill (contracted; submitted August 2022).
“Gender, the Life-Cycle and the Human Body” in A Cultural History of Christianity. Volume 1: Antiquity (100-800 CE). Bloomsbury (contracted, expected publication 2025).