Ian Shiels

Ian Shiels


I graduated from Leeds Univerty in 1986, with a BA (Hons) class I in English Language and Literature, and subsequently went to Oxford, where I studied Old Norse and Old English under Ursula Dronke.

Then I changed career-path and qualified for the Bar. Until a couple of years ago I practised as a barrister in Leeds, before rejoining academia as a Postgraduate Researcher at the Institute for Medieval Studies, where I am a doctoral candidate in my third and final year.

My thesis is entitled Ridiculae Fabulae: Story and History in the Poetry of the Exeter Book. It is about the narratives behind the poems Wulf and Eadwacer, the Old English Elegies, Deor and Widsith, investigating the stories – often historical – which lie behind them and which Anglo-Saxon audiences would have known but critics today mostly do not bother about.

Research interests

My area of study is medieval secular (often called “heroic”) poetry in Old English, Old Norse and Old High German, and the Icelandic family sagas. I am particularly interested in understanding the cultures and societies which produced, consumed (and criticised or ignored) this literature, the ideas and beliefs which informed it, and the means by which it was transmitted.


  • BA (Hons) English Class I
  • Dip. Law