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Abigail Williams

I have been a Fellow at St Peter's since 2001, shortly after I finished my doctorate, which was on politics and literature in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, and in particular, the development of Whig literary culture in that period. I am also interested in Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu; textual criticism; eighteenth century poetic miscellanies and popular reception history; obliteration and the revision of eighteenth century texts. I help to organise a termly seminar for St Peter's English students, together with my colleagues, Dr Tessa Roynon and Dr Tara Stubbs, in which visiting speakers come along to tell us what they have done with their English degrees.
At St Peter's I teach undergraduate courses in the period 1640-1832, and the Shakespeare paper. In the Faculty, I lecture on Restoration comedy, High and Low Culture, Pope, Swift, Montagu, Behn and Rochester. Along with Ros Ballaster, Christine Gerrard, and David Womersley, I have also recently started teaching a third year syndicated option on 'Grub Street', which explores the ephemeral productions of the early eighteenth century alongside more canonical texts. I have offered and taught MSt options on Poetry and Politics, and the literature of Grub Street, and am currently co-convening the Mst 1500-1780. I have supervised doctoral theses on: celebrity and female actors in the eighteenth century; Defoe and historiography; quotation of Shakespeare in the eighteenth-century novel, and the correspondence of Jacob Tonson. I convene the Restoration to Reform seminar, the Faculty's eighteenth-century graduate research seminar, currently held at St Peter's College.

Series featuring Abigail Williams

  • History of the Eighteenth Century in Ten Poems
  • Oxford Abridged Short Talks
  • Cultural Connections: exchanging knowledge and widening participation in the Humanities
  • Great Writers Inspire
  • TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities
# Episode Title Description People Date
1 Creative Commons The poetry of war Explores the aesthetics and impact of war poetry in the early eighteenth century, focussing on Joseph Addison's poem, The Campaign. Abigail Williams 16 Sep 2013
2 Creative Commons 02.Outside the Ivory Tower: research, creativity and serendipity. Cultural connections talk by Abigail Williams. Part of the Digital Humanities @ Oxford Summer School 2013. Abigail Williams 07 Aug 2013
3 Creative Commons TORCH Launch The highlights of the launch event for The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH). Jonathan Bate, Clare Copeland, Andrew Hamilton, Marcus du Sautoy 29 May 2013
4 Creative Commons Only Collect: An Introduction to the World of the Poetic Miscellany Dr Abigail Williams, Director of the Digital Miscellanies Index, explains how these popular collections of poetry designed to suit contemporary tastes were used in the 18th Century. Abigail Williams 09 Mar 2012
5 Creative Commons Jonathan Swift and the Art of Undressing Dr Abigail Williams gives a talk on Jonathan Swift and the Art of Undressing. Abigail Williams 07 Feb 2012
6 Creative Commons Poetry and Tobacco This podcast looks at the relationship between tobacco and poetic inspiration, through some popular comic poems. Abigail Williams, Laurence Williams, John Clargo 03 Aug 2011
7 Creative Commons Swirls and secrets: the mysteries of Jonathan Swift's love letters In Swift's letters to his adored Stella, we see an elaborate combination of language and code to tease his reader but still communicate intimacy. The denial of full disclosure and the refusal to reveal all is part of the game of seduction. Abigail Williams 14 Feb 2011