For the term 2017-2021, I am the Chair of The Executive Committee for Teacher Education (FUL) in addition to being Associate Professor of history at the Department of Historical studies, NTNU – the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. I hold a PhD in late ancient history and defended my doctoral thesis, Honour and domestic violence in the Late Roman West, c. 300-600 AD on April 10 2015 (see summary of thesis below).
Although I have taught Roman and Late Roman history at the university since 2004, I have moved more towards public history and the didactics of history in recent years. Since 2013, I am head of the Teacher’s education with a master’s in history study programme, which has led me to develop an interest in the didactics of higher education. I am currently working on how to create more student activities in first year courses in history at the Department of historical studies.
Summary of doctoral thesis: Honour and domestic violence in the Late Roman West, c. 300-600 AD
The concept of honour is often used to explain domestic violence in cases involving gender and sexuality. The concept is mainly associated with regions in Western Asia, North Africa and South America. The thesis explores whether such violence has also been a part of the history of Europe, by studying views on gender, the relationships between men and women, and domestic violence in the Latin West, c. 300-600 A.D. This was a formative period in the European history of the family, with the spread of Christianity, the growth of the power of the Church and the establishing of new political structures.
A main objective of the study is to demonstrate that the concept of honour is applicable and transferable to the Late Roman West, the Latin Roman cultural sphere in the period 300-600 A.D. Some historians have already adopted concepts of honour violence in their works on this period. However, no studies have discussed how transferable the concept is, and whether or not Roman cultures shared the typical traits of so-called honour cultures. The study draws upon research from the fields of social anthropology, sociology, criminology and psychology on present-day honour cultures, and uses that scholarship in comparative analyses of family relations in Late Antiquity. The thesis presents an ideal-type model of gendered honour and draws upon examples of practices and views of gender in honour cultures. The model is applied in analyses of the primary sources from the period, mainly Late Roman law codes and texts by leading Christians, such as Ambrose of Milan and Augustine.
The analyses are organised into thematic chapters discussing family structures and marital practices, views on women’s sexuality, views on female virtues, views on men’s virtues and masculinity, and finally, views on violence within the household. The similarities between honour cultures and Late Roman society suggest that the concept is applicable and transferable, and thus a viable approach to the Late Roman family. The study demonstrates that the Romans objectified women’s sexuality. As opposed to previous research, the thesis argues that women’s behaviour, particularly sexual behaviour, could injure family honour. Men who were unable to control their women and children could be seen as less masculine. Research on late Roman masculinity has placed much emphasis on discourses of self-control and discipline. The thesis interprets the ideas about anger developed in the period in light of those discourses. Men were obligated to uphold discipline in the household, and included venting one’s anger by punishing family members who lacked proper discipline. The study argues that patriarchal structures did not diminish with the rise of Christianity, but was just as strong, if not stronger, at the beginning of the Early Middle Ages