Chris Latham


I completed a BA Joint Honours degree in English and History at the University of Lincoln in 2013, where my historical study was focussed on modern history, but with a desire to look at something different. After some time away from academia, I was inspired to begin a MA degree in Medieval Studies here at Leeds thanks to a medieval topic I took during my time in Lincoln, which fully sparked my interest in studying the medieval period. I completed the MA in 2019 with a dissertation comparing the characteristics of revenants, or corporeal undead beings, found in the Historia rerum Anglicarum by William of Newburgh, a Latin chronicle from the twelfth century, and Erybyggja saga, an Old Norse/Icelandic saga from the thirteenth century. The comparisons I discovered between the Latin and Old Norse texts in my dissertation inspired me to study a wider range of Latin and Icelandic sources, focussing on narratives that include the walking dead. Medieval Latin and Icelandic sources have not yet received a great deal of comparison and not in great detail when it has been attempted. My PhD research, which I began in 2021, is focussed on establishing a fuller comparison of these sources. 

My main research questions are: 

  • How similar are the depictions of revenants in both the Icelandic Sagas and the Latin Chronicles and what insights can be drawn from their similarities and differences. 
  • Can the application of themes like gender (in particular masculinities as male revenants are more common than female ones), concepts of monstrosity, and disability, which have previously been discussed in both traditions separately, give us new understanding and analysis when discussed in comparison. 
  • What insights can be drawn from the narratives that have not been as extensively studied and do they offer new perspectives on the previous scholarship. 

Since I started my PhD in 2021, I have also become more involved in the community of both the School of History and the Institute for Medieval Studies (IMS). From November 2021, I became one of the PGR representatives for the School of History, raising issues affecting fellow PGRs in the school and representing the PGR community in meetings with faculty staff. Me and my fellow representative also created a School of History PGR Seminar series where PGRs from the school could present their research to fellow colleagues and staff and gain experience in conference presenting and hosting. During this academic year, I have accepted the role of IMS Community Intern, which involves communicating with the IMS department, highlighting the achievements of IMS colleagues, and organising, promoting and running events throughout the year like research conferences, workshops and social gatherings. All of this is done to help re-establish a sense of community within the IMS post Covid. 

Conference papers

  • Conference Paper: ‘How to defeat the Undead – Human intercession against the undead in Eyrbyggja Saga and Historia rerum Anglicarum’. Presented at the International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 2022. 
  • Conference Paper: ‘‘How to defeat the Undead – Human intercession against the undead in Eyrbyggja Saga and Historia rerum Anglicarum’. Presented at the School of History PGR Seminar Series, University of Leeds, October 2022. 
  • Conference Paper: ‘Dead Poet’s Society – Analysis of The Tale of Thorleif, The Earl’s Poet’. Presented at the School of History PGR Seminar Series, April 2023.
  • Conference Paper: ‘Dead Poet’s Society – Icelandic Cultural Transference vs. Norwegian Royal Stability in Þorleifs þáttur Jarlsskálds’. Presented at the Norse in the North Conference, University of Leeds, May 2023. 
  • Conference Paper: ‘Tangling with the Undead: Encounters with the Walking dead in Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss and Flóamanna saga’. Presented at the International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 2023.

Research interests

Since beginning my MA degree, I have become greatly interested in many aspects of the medieval period. Some of this interest has come from topics I studied during the MA, but some also from the work I have done in my PhD research. These interests include:

  • Medieval Literature; more broadly including Arthurian Romances and Chaucer, but also specifically focussed on the Old Norse/Icelandic sagas. 
  • The supernatural; not just regarding the walking dead, but also tales of sorcerers, monsters, dragons etc.
  • Mythology; mostly to do with Old Norse myths, but I would be interested in reading more about Irish and Welsh mythology. 
  • The Medieval Tournament; from its earliest forms in the eleventh century to its evolution in later centuries
  • Medieval understandings of gender and masculinity.

I also have some interest in Byzantium from a topic I did during the MA, as well as some interest in medieval minstrals.