Dame Averil Cameron
Averil Millicent Sutton
8 February 1940
|Other names||A. M. Cameron|
|Thesis||The Histories of Agathias (1966)|
Dame Averil Millicent Cameron (née Sutton; born 1940), often cited as A. M. Cameron, is a British historian. She was Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History at the University of Oxford, and the Warden of Keble College, Oxford, between 1994 and 2010.
Cameron was born on 8 February 1940 in Leek, Staffordshire, the only child of working-class parents, Tom Roy Sutton and Millicent (née Drew) Sutton. She read literae humaniores at Somerville College, Oxford, and was married, from 1962 to 1980, to Alan Cameron, with whom she has a son and a daughter.
From 1978 to 1994 Cameron taught at King's College, London, serving as Professor of Ancient History (1978-1989), Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (1989-1994), and Founding Director of the Centre for Hellenic Studies.
In 1994 she was elected Warden of Keble College, Oxford, where she served as Chair of the Conference of Colleges and as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, chair of committees relating to the Sackler Library, to the St Cross Building, to Honorary Degrees, Select Preachers, to the Bampton Lectures and to the Wainwright Fund, and was a member of the committee on conflict of interest.
Cameron was Editor of the Journal of Roman Studies from 1985-90 and has served as Chair of a number of academic institutions, including the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research and the Institute of Classical Studies Advisory Council, and chaired the project on the Prosopography of the Byzantine World at King's College London.
She was vice-chair and then chair of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England and chaired the Review of the Royal Peculiars (1999, Report published 2001).
Cameron has also acted as the President of academic societies including: the Ecclesiastical History Society (2005-2006), the Council for British Research in the Levant, and the International Federation of Associations of Classical Studies (2009-2014). In 2018 she became President of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies (2018-2023).
Cameron holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Warwick, St Andrews, Aberdeen, Lund, London, and Queen's University Belfast, as well as a DLitt. from Oxford. She became a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1999 and a Dame Commander (DBE) in 2006.
Cameron is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, the British Academy, the Ecclesiastical History Society, the Institute of Classical Studies, London King's College, London, and the Royal Historical Society.
In 2007 a Festschrift edited by Hagit Amirav and Bas ter Haar Romeny, From Rome to Constantinople: Studies in Honour of Averil Cameron (Leuven: Peeters), was published in Cameron's honour.
In 2020, Cameron was awarded the British Academy Kenyon Medal for her lifetime contribution to Byzantine Studies. The medal was awarded for the first time in 1957. Cameron is the second woman to receive the award, after Joyce Reynolds (2017).
Cameron's early articles explored early Byzantine and medieval writers including Agathias, Corippus, Procopius, and Gregory of Tours from literary and historical perspectives. Her early monographs, Agathias (1970) and Procopius and the Sixth Century (1985) were accompanied by a number of influential edited collections, including Images of Women in Antiquity, edited jointly with Amélie Kuhrt (1983), and History as Text (1989). With Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire: The Development of Christian Discourse (1990), originating as the Sather Classical Lectures at Berkeley, Cameron sparked a scholarly conversation about 'the power of discourse in society' in later antiquity, seeking to understand 'how Christianity was able to develop a "totalizing discourse"' (the phrase itself is borrowed from the work of Michel Foucault).
Along with Peter Brown, Cameron was a pioneer of the field of late antiquity, and her mature scholarship has included substantial surveys such as The Later Roman Empire, AD 284-430 (1993) and significant editorial commissions, including joint editorship of volumes 12, 13, and 14 of the Cambridge Ancient History (second edition). She has also written on late antiquity and the emergence of Islam, having been a co-founder of the series Studies on Late Antiquity and Early Islam, and recently published a number of influential studies opening up the subject of literary, philosophical and theological dialogues and debates in Byzantium from the early Christian period to the twelfth century, Dialoguing in Late Antiquity (2014), Arguing it Out (2016) and an edited volume with Niels Gaul (2017). Her short book, Byzantine Matters (2014) and essays including 'The absence of Byzantium' (2008) have given rise to lively debate about the methodology of Byzantine studies.
Recent articles include 'The Cost of Orthodoxy', Church History and Religious Culture, vol. 93 (2013) 339-61, and 'Early Christianity and the discourse of female desire', repr. from Women in Ancient Societies, ed. L. J. Archer, S. Fischler and M. Wyke (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994), 152-68, with an afterword, in The Religious History of the Roman Empire. Pagans, Jews and Christians, ed. J.A. North and S.R.F. Price (Oxford readings in Classical Studies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 505-30, and 'Byzantium and the limits of Orthodoxy', Raleigh Lecture on History, (Proceedings of the British Academy 154 2008), 139-52.