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Dr Elton Barker

Profile summary

  • Reader in Classical Studies
  • Faculty of Arts
  • Classical Studies
  • elton.barker

Professional biography

I'm a Reader in Classical Studies, having joined The Open University as a Lecturer in July 2009. Before then, I had been a Tutor and Lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford (2004-9), and also lectured at Bristol, Nottingham and Reading.

I came to Classical Studies late - my "A" levels were in English, Geography and Mathematics. I studied Classical Civilisation at the University of Leeds, and went on to do a Masters in Greek Civilisation there, and then, in order to learn the languages, a further Masters in Greek and Latin at Ohio State University in the USA. For my PhD, I studied in Cambridge (Pembroke College), where I investigated representations of verbal contest - or agon - in different ancient Greek genres, under the supervision of Simon Goldhill and Paul Cartledge.

I have been a Junior Research Fellowship at Wolfson College, Cambridge (2002-4) and a Visiting Fellow at Venice International University (2003-4). From 2012-2013 I had a Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for research at the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Leipzig. I have been awarded a Graduate Teaching Award from Pembroke College (Cambridge) and twice won awards from the University of Oxford for an Outstanding Contribution to Teaching.

Research interests

My research interests cross generic and disciplinary boundaries. In my first book, Entering the Agon (OUP, 2009), I explore the ways in which debate is represented in Homer, historiography and tragedy through a framework of dissent and authority. I have followed this up with a series of articles jointly written with Joel Christensen on poetic rivalry (in Homer and Archilochus), as well as the reception of Homer in the Epic Cycle. With Joel, I have published a Beginner's Guide to Homer, and have begun a book on Homer's Thebes - how Homer makes the Theban tradition speak to the aims and ambitions of his Iliad and Odyssey.

Since 2008, I have been leading and co-running a series of collaborative projects, which are using digital resources to rethink spatial understanding of the ancient world. The Hestia project investigates the underlying ways in which Herodotus constructs space in book 5 of his Histories. Producing a series of ‘X-ray’ maps based on relations between peoples and places rather than according to topographic ‘reality’ (Barker et al. 2013a), our network maps challenge: (i) the Europe vs. Asia polarity, through which the Histories are usually read and (ii) the Cartesian view of space, by which we usually perceive the ancient world. The Google Ancient Places, or GAP, project uses fully automated processes to first discover and then visualise places mentioned in a text, thereby enabling narratives with a strongly geographic basis to be read spatially.

Meanwhile, the Pelagios project has been establishing the Web infrastructure by which data produced and curated by different content providers - from academic projects like the Perseus Classical Library to cultural heritage institutions like the British Museum - can be linked through their common references to places. By means of this connectivity through common references, online documents of varying kinds can be read in relation to each other—not only literary texts but also inscriptions, archaeological finds or sites, museum objects, photographs, etc. Such resources provide context for thinking about ancient places. One way of visualising this graph of data is through a heat map, showing the spatial depth and breadth of the documents in the Pelagios network.

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Greek and Latin Texts ClusterClusterFaculty of Arts

Publications

Digital technologies: help or hindrance for the humanities? (2012-02)
Barker, Elton; Bissell, Christopher; Hardwick, Lorna; Jones, Allan; Ridge, Mia and Wolffe, John
Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 11(1-2) (pp. 185-200)
The Iliad’s big swoon: a case of innovation within the epic tradition (2011)
Barker, Elton
Trends in Classics, 3(1) (pp. 1-17)
On not remembering Tydeus: Diomedes and the contest for Thebes (2011)
Barker, Elton and Christensen, Joel
Materiali e discussioni per l’analisi dei testi classici, 66(1) (pp. 9-44)
Mapping an ancient historian in a digital age: the Herodotus Encoded Space-Text-Image Archive (HESTIA) (2010)
Barker, Elton; Bouzarovski, Stefan; Pelling, Chris and Isaksen, Leif
Leeds International Classical Studies, 9(2010) (article no. 1)
Oedipus of many pains: Strategies of contest in Homeric poetry (2008-02)
Barker, Elton T. E. and Christensen, Joel P.
Leeds International Classical Studies, 7/2008(2) (article no. 7.2)
Paging the oracle: interpretation, identity and performance in Herodotus’ History (2006)
Barker, Elton
Greece & Rome, 53(1) (pp. 1-28)
Flight club: the new Archilochus and its resonance with Homeric epic (2006)
Barker, Elton and Christensen, Joel
Materiali e discussioni per l'analisi dei testi classici, 57(2) (pp. 9-41)
Achilles' last stand: Institutionalising dissent in Homer's Iliad (2004)
Barker, Elton
Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society (pp. 92-120)
The fall-out from dissent: hero and audience in Sophocles' Ajax (2004)
Barker, Elton
Greece & Rome, 51(1) (pp. 1-20)
A Beginner’s Guide to Homer (2013-06-06)
Barker, Elton and Christensen, Joel
ISBN : 978-1-78074-229-8 | Publisher : One World | Published : London
Entering the Agon: Dissent and authority in Homer, historiography and tragedy (2009-01)
Barker, Elton
ISBN : 978-0-19-954271-0 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford, UK
Writing space, living space: time, agency and place relations in Herodotus’s Histories (2013-12)
Barker, Elton; Bouzarovski, Stefan; Isaksen, Leif and Pelling, Chris
In: Heirman, Jo and Klooster, Jacqueline eds. The Ideologies of Lived Space in Literary Texts, Ancient and Modern (pp. 229-247)
ISBN : 978-90-382-2102-1 | Publisher : Academia Press | Published : Ghent
All mod cons: power, openness and text in a digital turn (2013-10-31)
Barker, Elton
In: Hardwick, Lorna and Harrison, Stephen eds. Classics in the Modern World: A ‘Democratic Turn’? (pp. 411-426)
ISBN : 978-0-19-967392-6 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
New worlds out of old texts (2013)
Barker, Elton; Bouzarovski, Stefan and Isaksen, Leif
In: Barker, Elton; Bouzarovski, Stefan; Isaksen, Leif and Pelling, Chris eds. New Worlds out of Old Texts: Approaches to the Spatial Analysis of Ancient Greek Literature ((In press))
Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Digital approaches to analysing spatial relationships in Herodotus 5 (2013)
Barker, Elton and Isaksen, Leif
In: Barker, Elton; Bouzarovski, Stefan; Isaksen, Leif and Pelling, Chris eds. New Worlds out of Old Texts: Approaches to the Spatial Analysis of Ancient Greek Literature ((In press))
Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Towards a qualitative network analysis of Herodotus 5 (2013)
Barker, Elton and Bouzarovski, Stefan
In: Barker, Elton; Bouzarovski, Stefan; Isaksen, Leif and Pelling, Chris eds. New Worlds out of Old Texts: Approaches to the Spatial Analysis of Ancient Greek Literature ((In press))
Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Space-Travelling in Herodotus 5 (2013)
Barker, Elton and Pelling, Chris
In: Barker, Elton; Bouzarovski, Stefan; Isaksen, Leif and Pelling, Chris eds. New Worlds out of Old Texts: Approaches to the Spatial Analysis of Ancient Greek Literature ((forthcoming))
Publisher : Oxford University Press
On using a digital resources for the study of an ancient text: the case of Herodotus’ Histories (2013)
Barker, Elton; Isaksen, Leif; Rabinowitz, Nick; Bouzarovski, Stefan and Pelling, Chris
In: Dunn, Stuart and Mahony, Simon eds. The Digital Classicist. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies Supplement (122) (pp. 45-62)
ISBN : 9781905670499 | Publisher : Institute of Classical Studies, University of London
‘Possessing an unbridled tongue’: frank speech and speaking back in Euripides’ Orestes (2011-04-07)
Barker, Elton
In: Carter, David ed. Why Athens? A Reappraisal of Tragic Politics (pp. 145-162)
ISBN : 978-0-19-956232-9 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford
Momos advises Zeus: changing representations of ‘Cypria’ fragment 1 (2008)
Barker, Elton T. E.
In: Cingano, Ettore and Milano, Lucio eds. Papers on Ancient Literatures: Greece, Rome and the Near East: Proceedings of the “Advanced Seminar in the Humanities”, Venice International University 2004-2005 (pp. 33-73)
ISBN : 9788895672045 | Publisher : S.A.R.G.O.N. Editrice e Libreria | Published : Padova
New Worlds out of Old Texts: Approaches to the Spatial Analysis of Ancient Greek Literature (2013)
Barker, Elton; Bouzarovski, Stefan; Isaksen, Leif and Pelling, Chris eds.
Publisher : Oxford University Press (forthcoming) | Published : Oxford
Exploring Pelagios: a visual browser for geo-tagged datasets (2012)
Simon, Rainer; Barker, Elton and Isaksen, Leif
In : International Workshop on Supporting Users' Exploration of Digital Libraries (23-27 September 2012, Paphos, Cyprus)
GAP: a neogeo approach to classical resources (2011)
Barker, Elton; Isaksen, Leif; Byrne, Kate and Kansa, Eric
In : European Conference on Complex Systems 2010 (15 September 2010, Lisbon, Portugal)
Between a rock and a safe place: the chorus becoming citizens in Sophocles’ Ajax (2004)
Barker, Elton
In : Actas del Congreso Internacional con motivo del XXV Centenario del nacimiento de Sófocles (2003, Málaga)
HESTIA (the Herodotus Encoded Space-Text-Imaging Archive): An Interdisciplinary Project (2011-09)
Barker, Elton; Bouzarovski, Stefan; Pelling, Chris and Isaksen, Leif
European Science Foundation, Strasbourg.