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Staff Profile

Dr Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough

Associate Professor (Medieval History and Literature) in the Department of History

Contact Dr Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough (email at e.r.barraclough@durham.ac.uk)

I cut my teeth in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University of Cambridge. On the principle that you can never have too much of a good thing, I stayed on to do an MPhil and a PhD on landscape and geography in the Sagas of Icelanders. During this time I was a visiting research scholar at the University of Bergen (Centre for Medieval Studies) and University of Oslo (Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies).

After a brief stint in advertising, I then defected from the misty fens to the dreaming spires of Oxford in order to take up a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the English Faculty. During this time I was also an Extraordinary Junior Research Fellow at The Queen’s College.

In 2013, I was selected as one of ten New Generation Thinkers in a national competition run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The aim is to find early career academics with the potential to turn their research ideas into programmes for broadcast. Since then I have appeared on BBC radio to present documentaries, review films and exhibitions, and take part in discussions related to various aspects of medieval history and northern culture. Documentaries for Radio 3 include 'Supernatural North', 'True Norse', and 'Apocalypse How', and recent appearances on Radio 4 include the Food Programme (on wild boar) and Costing the Earth (on climate change in Svalbard).

In October 2013 I took up a lectureship at Durham University. In 2015, I held a Visiting Research Fellowship in the Department of Scandinavian Studies, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Research and teaching:

Much of my research explores the history, cultures, languages and literatures of the medieval Nordic world. I have focused most recently on the history of Norse far-travellers who made their mark on the great civilizations of the Middle Ages. In Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas I examine the medieval world through the lens of the far-travelling Norse and their saga storytelling culture, establishing an unfamiliar, distinctive approach to global history. What emerges is a fluid, fragmented, multidimensional picture that provides insights into how the world was remembered and imagined by a unique culture from the edge of medieval Europe. This project also incorporated my own fieldwork in locations including Greenland, Arctic Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Orkney, Rome, and Istanbul. 

Beyond the medieval world, I have broader interests in northern, arctic and geographical studies, and have co-edited the volume 'Imagining the Supernatural North' with colleagues from the International Arctic Social Sciences Association. I am on the steering group of the University of the Arctic at Durham, and am a member of the 'Creating the New North' research group at the Arctic University of Norway (Tromsø). This is now feeding into my new research project: A Cultural History of Ice.

Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

  • Barraclough, E. R., Cudmore, D. M. & Donecker, S. (2016). Imagining the Supernatural North. University of Alberta Press.

Journal Article

Conference Paper

  • Barraclough, E. R. (2009), ‘The World West of Iceland in Medieval Icelandic Oral Tradition’, in Ney, A., Williams, H. & Charpentier Ljungqvist, F. eds, Papers from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences 14 1: Saga and East Scandinavia: Fourteenth International Saga Conference. Uppsala, Gävle: Gävle University Press, Uppsala, 99-105.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Barraclough, E. R. (2017). Top Ten Books About the Vikings. The Guardian
  • Barraclough, E. R. (2015). True Norse: What Nordic Culture is Really Like. The Telegraph
  • Barraclough, E. R. (2011). Penitent Prudes and Playful Perverts: Sex in Old English Literature. The Erotic Review
  • Barraclough, E.R. (2011). The Hedonist: Reykjavik. The Independent, 26 February 2011