Personal profile


Professor Katie Barclay is a Future Fellow in the Department of History and Archaeology. She is an internationally leading expert in the history of emotions, gender and family life. Between 2019 and March 2024, she was Head of Historical and Classical Studies and Director of the Fay Gale Centre in Gender Studies at the University of Adelaide. From 2019-2022, she was Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in the History of Emotions. She is a graduate in Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow, where she completed her undergraduate degree, Masters and PhD. Before joining the University of Adelaide, she held a Research Fellowship in the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University, Belfast. Between 2008 and 2010, she worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Warwick on a project, run jointly with Queen’s, ‘Marriage in Ireland, 1660-1925’. In 2007-8, Dr Barclay was the Economic History Society Anniversary Fellow, held through the Institute of Historical Research, London. She came to Australia as Postdoctoral Fellow in the Centre for the History of Emotions (2011-2014), and subsequently held a Discovery Early Career Award (2014-2017). In 2017-18, Barclay was a EURIAS Marie Curie Fellow at Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University and in 2023-2024 she was a Fellow at the Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies, University of Heidelberg. Her current research explores how to feel safe at the end of the world.

Research interests

My research expertise can be grouped into three areas: 1) the history of emotions and family life; 2) the history of subjectivity and identity creation, especially with respect to gender; 3) histories of Britain, particularly Scotland and Ireland between the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. I have a particular expertise in how people display, construct and understand emotions in a variety of contexts, but particularly within family relationships and childhood studies, including marriage, parent-child and sibling relationships. This includes histories of love and intimacy, grief and anger and more. I have an innovative approach to exploring how people perform who they are (whether in letters, song, or in everyday interactions), how those performed selves influence social and familial interaction, and how emotion is used as a medium for identity, as a method of communication, and as a tool for negotiating power. Whilst I trained as an economic and social historian, and moved into cultural history, I have spent much of my career in interdisciplinary centres. Thus, my work is marked by a broad range of cultural studies methodologies, intersecting with literature, sociology, law and gender studies. I have worked on case studies that range from medieval Europe to twenty-first century Australia.

I am the author of Love, Intimacy and Power: Marriage and Patriarchy in Scotland, 1650-1850 (Manchester, 2011), Men on Trial: Performing Emotion, Embodiment and Identity, 1800-1845 (Manchester, 2019); A History of Emotions: A Student Guide to Sources and Methods (Basingstoke, 2020); Caritas: Neighbourly Love and the Early Modern Self (Oxford, 2021); Academic Emotions: Feeling the Institution (Cambridge, 2021), and with Leanne Downing, Memes, Emotions and the Making of History (Cambridge, 2023), and numerous edited collections, book chapters and articles.

My current ARC Future Fellowship explores ‘How to Feel Safe at the End of the World’, with a particular focus on ideas of safety and security for children and within families in early modern Europe. My recently completed ARC Discovery project, Precarious Accounts: Money, Sex and Power in the Industrial Revolution', explored how accounting practices shaped selfhood and morality across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This incorporates a biography of the Scottish banker Gilbert Innes of Stowe, as well as second monograph on accounts as a source for the self.

Research engagement

With Joanne Begiato, I recently held an AHRC-networking grant (2019-22) on ‘Inheriting the Family’, where we worked with family historians to explore the role of emotion in shaping what things we keep hold of and transmit over generations. This project led to videos on this topic that can be viewed here: Publications from this work are forthcoming, and include a monograph with Sharon Crozier-de Rosa on Intergenerational Emotions and the Making of History.

Previously I have worked with Jenni Caruso, Steven Barclay, Murray Bridge High School and the Njarrindjeri people of the Murray Bridge region to collect histories of the Stolen Generation and to produce teaching resources to support education about this past. This work was funded by the SA Stolen Generations Community Reparations Fund.

Research student supervision

I have significant experience as a research supervisor and mentor. Eight of my PhD students have graduated, three with Dean’s Commendation and two with the University Medal, as have three MPhil students, one with a Dean’s Commendation. I enjoy working on interdisciplinary projects – having supervised not only in History but Fine Art, Architecture, and Law – and with creative methods, including biography and family history. I have worked with students from a range of backgrounds including those with non-traditional pathways into the PhD. I am currently open to supervise particularly in the history of emotions, family and gender history, legal history, and early modern and modern global histories.

Teaching and Leadership

I have significant teaching experience at all levels, including providing leadership of curriculum and programme development. I am Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Keen to enable teaching of the history of emotions at an undergraduate level, I have produced a well-received body of resources to support this activity across the globe. The first, a sole-authored student guide, The History of Emotions: A Student Guide to Methods and Sources (Macmillan, 2020; sold to Bloomsbury 2021), explains how to apply theories and methods to historical sources. This was accompanied by an edited collection, Katie Barclay, Sharon Crozier-De Rosa, and Peter Stearns, eds, Sources for the History of Emotions: A Student Guide (Routledge, 2020), where we brought together leading academics to explore key sources they used in their own work and to reflect on their utility for emotions research. Finally, with François Soyer, I put together Emotions in Europe, 1517-1914: A Sourcebook (Routledge, 2021), a 4-volume collection of original source material for use in the classroom. 

Education/Academic qualification

Economic and Social History, PhD, University of Glasgow

Social History, MPhil, University of Glasgow

Economic and Social History, MA(Hons), University of Glasgow

External positions

Fellow, Australian Academy of Humanities

2023 → …

College of Experts, Australian Research Council

2023 → …

Treasurer, Australia and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies

2022 → …

Panel Member, Swedish Research Council

2022 → …

College of Experts, Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO)

2021 → …

Senior Fellow, Advance Higher Education Academy

2018 → …

Fellow, Royal Historical Society

2016 → …


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