Centre for the Study of the Viking Age
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Eleni Ponirakis

Teaching Affiliate,



I am currently teaching on the first and second year medieval modules at the Universities of Nottingham and Leicester and have just completed a PhD on Old English poetry at the University of Nottingham. The thesis was successfully defended on 28 April, 2017. Prior to that I completed a Masters in Viking and Anglo-Saxon Studies here in 2011 with distinction.

The research was funded by a Teaching Fellowship awarded by the School of English at Nottingham.

Expertise Summary

My main area of expertise is in Old English language, literature and culture. Special focus on Old English poetry, homiletic prose and the influence of patristic theology on Anglo-Saxon thought.

Old Norse literature, language and mythology.

Middle English literature and language, with a special interest in Arthurian.

Editor of the TOEBI newsletter. (Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland).

Teaching Summary

Member HEA - Status: Fellow (Nottingham Recognition Scheme).

2017-8 Viking World (University of Nottingham) - Lecturer - I will be giving a lecture on Norse Mythology as part of this first year introduction to Viking literature and culture.

2017 Mapping the Medieval (University of Manchester) - Lecturer and Seminar tutor on this fist year module which introduces students to Old and Middle English through close study of two key texts: Beowulf and Gawain and the Green Knight.

2013-18 Beginnings of English (University of Nottingham) -- Seminar tutor and Lecturer. This course introduces first year students to the study of medieval language and literature, covering Old English, Middle English and Old Norse.

2015-17 Old English Reflection and Lament (University of Nottingham) - Optional second year course on Old English Elegy. Students study Old English language and literature. Tutor and lecturer.

2017-8 Medieval Literatures (University of Leicester) - Second year course on a wide variety of Middle English texts.

2015-6 Ice and Fire (University of Nottingham) - Second year course on Old Norse literature and culture with a focus on mythology represented in texts and material culture. Tutor and lecturer.

Research Summary

My research examines the way Anglo-Saxon poets use an interplay between mental acts and physical acts to add layers of meaning to their work. This type of interplay can be found in religious… read more

Current Research

My research examines the way Anglo-Saxon poets use an interplay between mental acts and physical acts to add layers of meaning to their work. This type of interplay can be found in religious writings, such as the homilies of Ælfric or the Benedictine Rule where intention and attitude are as important, if not more so, than physical actions, and the relation between the two is made more prominent. At times these interplays are presented in a figurative way, most frequently in the image of a mind physically turning towards or away from God.

Similar relations between mental and physical acts, and at times similar figures, are apparent in Anglo-Saxon poetry from a variety of genres: the heroic Battle of Maldon, the elegiac Seafarer and the hagiographic Juliana and the thesis centres on a close analysis of these three poems. Within the context of mental and physical acts, control of the mind is an important factor. I am particularly interested in patterns of movement and stasis - both mental and physical - where the mind must be held firmly in place. In this rather Boethian way, wisdom seems to be associated with stasis and emotion with movement.

My methodology required a detailed analysis of each of the poems considering the relation of mental to physical action. The patterns identified in the three poems studied consist of patterns of repetition or distribution. These were compared to similar uses of patterns, formulas, figures, diction and collocations between poems in the corpus and beyond in prose texts such as the homilies, The Benedictine Rule and the Alfredian translations of Gregory's Cura Pastoralis and The Old English Boethius. The thesis was described in the viva report as, 'a substantial contribution to the burgeoning field of mind and emotion in Anglo-Saxon literature'.

Future Research

I am interested in a reexamination of the Exeter Book Elegies in the light of my previous research.

Centre for the Study of the Viking Age

Trent Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5900
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 5924
email: csva@nottingham.ac.uk