Professor Esther Eidinow

BA (Oxon.), MA (Oxon.), DPhil (Oxon.)

  • BS8 1TB

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Personal profile

Research interests

My broad area of expertise is ancient Greek society and culture, with specific focus on ancient Greek religion and magic. I have published monographs on oracles, curse tablets and binding spells, concepts of fate, luck and fortune, and the social emotions surrounding ‘witchcraft’ trials in classical Athens. I am the editor with Thomas Harrison (St Andrews) of a new series on Ancient Religions and Cognition for Cambridge University Press, and co-founder and co-Editor in Chief (with Luther Martin, Vermont) of the Journal of Cognitive Historiography; I have also started (2019) a new series (with Katherina Lorenz at Giessen, and Anna Collar, Southampton) on Ancient Environments.

I take an interdisciplinary approach to research, employing cognitive and anthropological theories to investigate ancient evidence, with particular interest in questions about social emotions, the concept of the individual and ideas of the self, network theory, and the socio-cultural power of narrative. I am currently working on projects exploring narratives and environmental risk; myth and landscape; the idea of 'belief'; and concepts of change in the ancient world. I am currently the PI of an AHRC project, leading an interdisciplinary team building a VR experience of consultation at the oracle of Zeus, at Dodona--the Virtual Reality Oracle.

Much of my work is informed by a broader curiosity about how different cultures respond to not knowing about the future (raising questions about responses to uncertainty, risk, and decision making). I have recently given (written) evidence to the House of Lords Risk Assessment and Risk Planning Committee (2021); I am currently collaborating on a project funded by 'Engineering X' (a collaboration of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Lloyd's Register Foundation) on complex systems.

My interests in this area are shaped by my career before academia, when I worked as an editor and writer, specializing in scenarios and strategy for business, governments and international organisations, such as UNAIDS. I still work with some of my business and strategy colleagues on related questions—e.g., what makes a narrative about the future seem plausible--and work with businesses, especially SMEs, on narrative and story-telling. 

Supervision: I currently supervise graduate theses on the development and transmission of cult, representations of mythical figures, cognitive approaches to Dionysiac ritual. I have been shortlisted for the Bristol Student Award for Outstanding Supervision of Research Students in 2018/19 and 2019/2020.

I welcome applications from prospective postgraduate students with research interests in any aspect of archaic and classical Greek society and culture, particularly, but not limited to, ancient Greek religion and/or magic, myth, historiography, cognitive humanities, history of emotions.

Office: 11 Woodland Road, Room 1.34 A.


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