Professor Julia Hillner
Staatsexamen, Ph.D. (Bonn)
Department of History
Professor of Medieval History
Full contact details
Department of History
1 Upper Hanover Street
I joined the Department of History in 2008. I studied at the Universities of Bonn, Perugia and Padova and graduated with a PhD in Ancient History in 2001.
Before coming to Sheffield I worked for the AHRB funded project "Religion, Dynasty and Patronage in Rome, c. 440-840", as a Teaching Fellow in Early Christianity, and as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, all at the University of Manchester.
My research has been funded by the British Academy, the AHRC, the Leverhulme Trust and the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation.
I am the Principal Investigator of The Migration of Faith: Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity and of Women, Conflict and Peace: Gendered Networks in Early Medieval Narratives, a member of the Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters of the British School at Rome, a co-editor of Gender & History, a member of the editorial board of Journal of Roman Studies, and a trustee of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies.
- Research interests
My research interests focus on anything to do with late Roman law: from the political, social and philosophical contexts of its production and codification at the imperial centre, to legal practices 'on the ground' and how they helped individuals to shape their relationships and environment.
I have a particular interest in the transformations of the family and the household in the period 300-750 and how these transformations are reflected in legal norms and practices. I have published widely on related topics: from the urban context of the family and property holding, particularly in the late antique city of Rome, to issues of authority, hierarchy and discipline within the household and how these have influenced concepts and practices of public punishment in late antiquity.
I currently have three research projects: the first one, funded by the AHRC, is a collaborative project with colleagues at the Universities of Halle, Aarhus and Vienna, investigating the cultural encounters generated by legal banishment of religious dissidents in late antiquity and their influence on the development and institutionalisation of the Christian church in this period. Within this project, I investigate how exiled clerics' social relationships, in particular with members of their households and with women, structured their experiences and the memory of their exile. I am particularly interested in the possibilities of social network analysis to assess the roles of such more 'marginal' people. For further information and publication plans see https://blog.clericalexile.org/.
My second project is a biography of Helena, mother of the first Christian emperor Constantine (under contract with Oxford University Press, for the Women in Antiquity series). This book will examine Helena's life and reception against the background of female networks within and across the imperial and royal dynasties of late antiquity and against the social and legal parametres of female life in the late Roman empire. I am blogging about this project here.
Finally, I am working on a project on a role of women in early medieval conflict resolution, together with Dr Máirín MacCarron (Sheffield), Prof Silvio Dahmen (Porto Alegre) and Prof Ralph Kenna (Coventry). This project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, analyses how early medieval history-writing fitted women and their networks into stories of conflict and peace-building. Is objective is to reveal whether women only appear as peace-building and conflict-sowing conduits between men in early medieval texts, or whether early medieval authors afforded women more expansive roles within their networks. It will do so using an interdisciplinary approach combining qualitative and quantitative methodologies from History, Literature and Network Science. It will build on ground-breaking developments in literary network analysis, that is, mathematical calculation of character relationships over the course of a narrative, and adapt this method as historical source criticism. One outcome of the project will be a monograph co-authored with Dr MacCarron.
I am also a founding member, with Dr Charles West (History) and Dr Jane Rempel (Archaeology), of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities' interdisciplinary Medieval and Ancient Research Seminar (MARS) part of the The Medieval and Ancient Research Centre at the University of Sheffield (MARCUS).
- Prison, punishment and penance in late antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Jedes Haus ist eine Stadt: Privatimmobilien im spätantiken Rom. Bonn: Habelt.
- Waves Across the Pond: Exiling Clerics in Late Antiquity, Special Issue of Studies in Late Antiquity: A Journal, vol. 3.3 (2019)...
- Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. View this article in WRRO
- Religion, Dynasty, and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300–900. Cambridge University Press.
- Gendered networks and communicability in medieval historical narratives. Advances in Complex Systems. View this article in WRRO
- Imperial women and clerical exile in late antiquity. Studies in Late Antiquity, 3(3), 369-412. View this article in WRRO
- Empresses, queens and letters : finding a 'female voice' in late antiquity?. Gender & History, 31(2), 353-382. View this article in WRRO
- A woman’s place: imperial women in late antique Rome. Antiquite Tardive: revue internationale d'histoire et d'archeologie, 25, 75-94. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO Confined Exiles: An Aspect of the Late Antique Prison System. Millennium. Jahrbuch zu Kultur und Geschichte des ersten Jahrtausends n. Chr., 10.
- Monks and Children: Corporal Punishment in Late Antiquity. European Review of History, 16, 773-791.
- 'Gregory the Great's Prisons: Monastic Confinement in Early Byzantine Italy'. Journal of Early Christian Studies, 19, 433-471.
- Monastic Imprisonment in Justinian's Novels. Journal of Early Christian Studies, 15(2), 205-237.
- Clerics, property and patronage: the case of the Roman titular churches. Antiquité Tardive, 14, 59-68.
- DARK AGE ROME: TOWARDS AN INTERACTIVE TOPOGRAPHY. Late Antique Archaeology, 3(1), 311-337.
- Domus, Family, and Inheritance: the Senatorial Family House in Late Antique Rome. Journal of Roman Studies, 93, 129-145.
- Die Berufsangaben und Adressen auf den stadtrömischen Sklavenhalsbändern. HISTORIA-ZEITSCHRIFT FUR ALTE GESCHICHTE, 50(2), 193-216.
- Female Crime and Female Confinement in Late Antiquity, Social Control in Late Antiquity (pp. 15-38). Cambridge University Press
- Exclusion, intégration ou exclusion par l’intégration ? Géographies du banissement et asile à la fin de l’empire romain (Ve-VIe siècle), La construction sociale du sujet exclu (IVe-XIe siècle) (pp. 45-68). Brepols Publishers View this article in WRRO
- Preserving Female Voices: Female Letters in Late Antique Letter Collections In Lizzi R & Marconi G (Ed.), A Late Antique Experiment in Roman-Canon Law. The Collectio Avellana and its Revivals Cambridge Scholars Publishing
- Approaches to Clerical Exile: Strategies, Experiences, Memories and Social Networks In Hillner J, Engberg J & Ulrich J (Ed.), Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity (pp. 11-43). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
- Family Violence: Punishment and Abuse in the Late Roman Household In Tougher S & Brubaker L (Ed.), Approaches to the Byzantine Family (pp. 21-45). Farnham: Ashgate.
- Enfermement monastique au VIe siècle In Claustre J & Heullant-Donant I (Ed.), Enfermements: Le cloître et la prison du Ve au XVIIIe siècle (pp. 39-56). Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne.
- Families, patronage, and the titular churches of Rome, c. 300–c. 600, Religion, Dynasty, and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300–900 (pp. 225-261). Cambridge University Press
- View this article in WRRO Anicia Iuliana and the Collectio Avellana: What difference did her letters make? In Evers A (Ed.), Emperors, Bishops, Senators: The Evidence of the Collectio Avellana (pp. 132-141). Leuven: Peeters.
- 'Execution', 'Punishment', 'Prisons', 'Homicide', 'Violence, crimes of', 'Torture'. In Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity Oxford University Press.
- Constantina, daughter of Constantine, wife of Gallus Caesar, and patron of St. Agnes at Rome Oxford University Press.
- Constantia, half-sister of Constantine and wife of Licinius Oxford University Press.
- Research group
I teach social history of the Roman and late Roman empire. I am happy to supervise students interested in any aspect of this area, in particular those with interests in the city of Rome, the family, monasticism, crime and punishment, and late Roman and early medieval law.
- Current Students
- Kelsey Madden (Second Supervisor, Department of Archaeology) - Vulnerable Victims of War: The Meaning and Significance of Barbarian Women and Children Represented in Roman Conquest Iconography from the 1st to the 4th centuries AD.
- Completed Students
- Simon Hosie (MPhil) - Cataloguing the Empire: The Regionary Catalogues and the Role and Purpose of Bureaucratic Inventories.
- Harold Mawdsley - Exile in the Western Successor-States, 439 - C.650.
- Heinz-Heinen Fellowship, Centre for Dependency and Slavery Studies, University of Bonn (2021)
- British Academy Conference Grant 2021 (as Co-I, with Dr Caroline Goodson, Cambridge)
- Leverhulme Research Project Grant for Women Conflict and Peace: Gendered Networks in Early Medieval Narratives (2018-2020)
- Follow-on Fellowship, Alexander-von-Humboldt Stiftung, Autumn Semester 2017-18
- 2016 PROSE Awards Honorable Mention for Prison, Punishment and Penance in Late Antiquity (Cambridge: CUP, 2015)
- AHRC Research Project Grant for the project The Migration of Faith: Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity, 325-600AD (2014-2017)
- Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, Alexander-von-Humboldt Stiftung (2011/12)
- Senate Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Collaboration Category, Sheffield (2011)
- British Academy Post-doctoral Fellowship (2003-2008)
- Graduiertenförderung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (1998-2000)
- Teaching activities
- HST230 - The Family in Late Antiquity: Romans, Barbarians and Christians
- HST2025 - Match of the Day: The Nika Riot in 532
- HST3113/14 - The Phoenix City: Rome in Late Antiquity (300-600)
- HST6033 - Crime and Punishment in Late Antiquity
- HST6084 - Writing Late Antique Lives
- Professional activities
I serve as an elected member of the Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters of the British School at Rome (2017-2021) and as an elected member of the council of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, of which I am also a trustee
I am on the Advisory Board of the ERC funded project "Connected Clerics. Building a Universal Church in the Late Antique West" (CONNEC), directed by Dr David Natal (Royal Holloway), and a 'Fachgutachter' for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
I am a member of the Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica (AIAC)
I am the Department of History's REF coordinator.
- Public engagement
I am a committee member of the Sheffield branch of the Classical Association, which I chaired in 2010-11. In 2015-6 I supervised research into the history of the Sheffield Classical Association, conducted by Isobel Bowden and supported by a SURE project grant of the University of Sheffield. The results of this project can be found on the branch's website.
I am also on the Roman Society's Panel of Lecturers and can be booked for local Classical Association and school talks. I have recently given lectures in Bangor, Hull, Cardiff, Leeds, Edinburgh and Newcastle-under-Lyme.
In the media:
I am a regular contributor to the department's History Matters blog. I regularly blog about the research for my current monograph project, a biography of Helena, mother of Constantine, here.