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Dr Eleanor Bird

Research Associate

Eleanor Bird

County College



Research overview

My broad areas of interest include the transatlantic slave trade, abolitionism and race. Because my work is focused on Canada in the long eighteenth century and the slave narratives and newspapers that were reprinted and recirculated there that were first printed in other national contexts, I have expertise in exploring texts about slavery in their transatlantic contexts. I am interested in Black Atlantic writers and women's writing about slavery in print and manuscript form and have worked with anislavery gift books and letters, newspapers and slave narratives.


My main research interests are in the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade and slavery in the Romantic period, with a particular focus on slave narratives and newspapers. My first book, which is under contract with Manchester University Press, develops our understanding of Canada's role in the Atlantic slave system and in the international antislavery debate and contributes to the scholarly understanding of the Black Atlantic in Canada and throughout the Anglophone and Francophone world. As a member of the Davy Notebooks Project team, I am bringing a specific aspect to the project on Davy and race that has not been explored before.

I have published articles on slavery in Quebec’s newspapers in the Journal of Transatlantic Studies, women’s antislavery writing and manuscript culture in Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies and on Mary Prince and Susanna Moodie in Notes & Queries. My PhD, awarded in 2018, was a collaborative doctoral award at the University of Sheffield and British Library. The project used rare book slave narratives and Canadian newspapers at the British Library and at archives in Canada.

I have held the Eccles Centre for American Studies Award and had a fellowship with the Nova Scotia Museum in Canada. In 2020-21 I held a BAAS Early-Career Short-Term Research Assistance Award and this enabled me to employ a PhD student at the Harriet Irving Library at the University of New Brunswick to search newspapers and discover more about the circulation of slave narratives in Canada. I represent my department in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Decolonisation Network, and I am a member of the Athena Swan Sub-Committee and EDI Committee.

Career Details

2021-present: Lancaster University: Research Associate on the Davy Notebooks Project in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing

2019-2022: University of Sheffield: Honorary Research Fellow in the School of English

2019-2020: University of Nottingham: Teaching Associate in the Department of American and Canadian Studies

2018-2018: Lancaster University: BAVS and BARS Nineteenth-Century Matters Fellowship in the Department of History

2017: University of Manchester: John Rylands Institute and Library Visting Fellow (3 months)


Research Grants

2023: £1000 (£300 FASS Decolonisation Grant and £200 EDI Grant and £500 matched Davy Notebook Project funding). Project: ‘Humphry Davy’s Connections to Transatlantic Slavery’, which will employ two undergraduate student researchers. 

2023: £750 Women’s Studies Group Bursary. Project: ‘Recovering Margaret Davy as a Biographer and Transcriber through Examining her Transcriptions and ‘Preliminary Notes’: Exploring Women’s Writing of the Biographies of Men of Science, 1830-1836’. 

2020-21: £1000 British Association for American Studies Early Career Short-Term Research Assistance Award. Project: ‘U.S. Slave Narratives and their Authors in Canada, 1851-54’ Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick.

2018-19: BAVS/BARS Nineteenth-Century Matters Fellow, History, Lancaster University. Project: Mapping Canadian Slave Narratives

2017: £4500 John Rylands Institute Fellowship to support three months’ archival research. Project: Antislavery Writing in Sheffield.

2014: $3900 Nova Scotia Museum Board of Governors’ Grant in Black Cultural History. Project: Black Loyalists, Enslaved and Self-Liberated People in Newspapers in Atlantic Canada, 1783-1865.

2014-2016: £600 Eccles Centre for American Studies British Library Fellowship per annum. 

Current Teaching

At Lancaster University, I am currently supervising two student research projects exploring Humphry Davy's connections to transatlantic slavery. I have taught on both undergraduate and postgraduate courses within the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing. I have lectured and designed and taught seminars on the Black Atlantic writers Phillis Wheatley, Olaudah Equiano, and Austin Steward and Mr and Mrs John Little. In 2023, I gave a guest lecture on British Romanticism (second year undergraduate). In 2022, I taught on American Literature to 1900 (second year undergraduate), focusing on captivity narratives, early poetry, sermons, and revolutionary oratory, letters and poetry. In 2022, I designed and taught a new seminar on slave narratives on the MA module Nineteenth-Century Literature: Place - Space - Text. Prior to this, in 2019-2020, I have taught modules on Canadian and American literature in the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham and in the School of English at the University of Sheffield. 

External Roles

I have been awarded recognition as an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, which will be formally ratified by the assessment board in July 2023. I am a member of the Executive Committee of the British Association for Canadian Studies and a member of the International Network for Emerging Scholars in Canadian Studies, which is supported by the International Council for Canadian Studies. 

My Role

I am a Research Associate on the Davy Notebooks Project in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing.

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