About

I am Lecturer in Mediterranean History at the University of Liverpool. I am a cultural historian of late antiquity and the early middle ages. My research and teaching focus on the later Roman Empire and its early medieval successors, with a particular interest in issues of religious diversity, social identity, ethnic communities, and political culture. My first book, Being Christian in Vandal Africa (University of California Press, 2018) is about the consequences of church conflict in post-Roman Africa (modern-day Tunisia and Algeria). My current project considers how Christian ideology reshaped the representation and practice of governance in late antiquity.

Before coming to Liverpool in January 2018, I was Hulme Humanities Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (2014-2018), and a temporary Lecturer in Early Medieval History attached to various Oxford colleges (2016/17).

Education

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (PhD in Classics, 2014)

University College, Oxford (MSt in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, 2010)

Merton College, Oxford (BA in History, 2009)

Other Publications

‘Ethnicity, Christianity, and groups: Homoian Christians in Ostrogothic Italy and Visigothic Spain’, in Erica Buchberger and Yaniv Fox (edd.) Inclusion and exclusion in Mediterranean Christianities, 400-800, Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages 25 (Turnhout, 2019), 167-98.

‘An ascetic state? Fashioning Christian political service across the early sixth-century Mediterranean’, Studies in Late Antiquity 2.3 (2018): 385-418.

‘Mirrors for bureaucrats: expectations of Christian officials in the Theodosian Empire’, Journal of Roman Studies 108 (2018): 74-98. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0075435818000254

Being Christian in Vandal Africa: the politics of orthodoxy in the post-imperial West, The transformation of the classical heritage 59 (Oakland, CA, 2018). https://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520295957

‘Surrogate fathers: imaginary dialogue and patristic culture in late antiquity’, Early Medieval Europe 25.1 (2017): 19-37.

‘African controversy: the inheritance of the Donatist schism in Vandal Africa’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 65.3 (2014): 504-21.

‘Arianism in Africa’, in Guido Berndt and Roland Steinacher (edd.) Arianism: Roman heresy and barbarian creed (Aldershot, 2014), pp. 239-55.

Projects

I am currently the recipient of an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship (Sept 2020-Sept 2022) for a project entitled ‘The Christian State in Late Antiquity: Officials, Identities, and Religious Change, c. 400-600 CE’. The main aims of this project are:

1. To explore how Christian political culture became mainstream in late antiquity.
–to investigate the development of Christian ideas of political service and the impact of Christian identity on imperial and royal officials in the fifth and sixth centuries.
–to consider the ways in which their duties entangled late ancient officials with Christian authority figures, communities, and institutions, and how those entanglements reshaped the cultural assumptions of late ancient bureaucracies.
2. To re-energize the study of late ancient Christian political thought.
–To diversify scholarly approaches to this topic by bringing to bear the methods and concerns of the last generation of late ancient social and cultural history.
–To build new networks of early and mid-career scholars working in various disciplines across North America and Europe.

3. To foster wider public interest in the study of late ancient and early medieval religious change.
–to exhibit late ancient and early medieval objects from the collections of the Liverpool World Museum.
–to engage academics, curators and other stakeholders in discussions about best practice in the presentation of late ancient material in UK museums.

As part of this project, I am working on a book, provisionally entitled Forming the Christian State: Officials, Identities, and Religious Change in Late Antiquity. I am also currently working on papers on gender, ethnicity, and power in Vandal Africa, and on Christian ideas of the “secular” in the sixth-century West.

Robin Whelan

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