Dr. Graham Williams

Lecturer in the History of English

BA (Summa Cum Laude) University of Hartford, USA
MPhil, University of Glasgow
PhD, University of Glasgow


Dr Graham Williams

University of Sheffield
Room 3.23, Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
Sheffield, UK
S3 7RA
Telephone: +44 (0)114-222-8460

email: g.t.williams@sheffield.ac.uk


Originally from the climes of Upstate New York, Sheffield has been home since joining the School of English as Lecturer in the History of English in 2012. Prior to coming to England, I completed my PhD under Professor Jeremy J. Smith and Dr. Alison Wiggins at University of Glasgow, where I was also a postdoctoral researcher for the AHRC Letters of Bess of Hardwick Project.


Broadly speaking, I am a philologist of medieval and early modern English language and literature. More particularly, my perspective tends to be of a cultural-historical or pragmatic bent. I have worked extensively with manuscript and digital letter collections in order to study English interactions dating from c.1390-1650, but more recently my research deals with texts of all types, from Old English homilies to late medieval verse.

I also have strong research interests in manuscript studies, paleography, digital editing and corpora - in particular the implications these perspectives have for the historical study of English.

At the moment, I am finishing a book on Sincerity and Affective Language in Medieval England (due to be published in 2016).


I convene and/or contribute teaching to the following modules:

  • ELL114 - History of English (convener)
  • ELL118 - Early Englishes
  • LIT108 - Studying Poetry
  • ELL231 - Issues in Language Change
  • ELL236 - Introduction to Middle English (convener)
  • ELL360 - Historical Pragmatics (convener)

I also direct and teach on the MA in English Language and Linguistics


I would be happy to supervise students with an interest in any area of my research expertise.

Public Engagement

I am strongly committed to sharing experience and expertise with the wider public and have featured as a speaker on BBC Radio Scotland, and worked with National Trust volunteers at Hardwick Hall as part of my role in the AHRC Letters of Bess of Hardwick Project.



Articles and Chapters

  • 'Written like a "gwd" Scotswoman: Margaret Tudor's use of Scots', Scottish Language (forthcoming).
  •  'Language' (with the late David Burnley), in A Companion to Chaucer, second edition (forthcoming), ed. Peter Brown (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers).
  • 'wine min Unferð: A reconsideration of (supposed) sarcasm in Beowulf'. Journal of Historical Pragmatics 18:2 (forthcoming).
  • 'Glossing over the Lamb: Phonaesthetic Gl- in Middle English and Aural Scepticism in Pearl', Review of English Studies (online 2013; in print 2014)
  • 'Publishing the Archive' (co-editor), Archive Journal 4 (Spring 2014), http://www.archivejournal.net/issue/4/three-sixty/
  • ‘“my evil favoured writing”: Uglyography, Disease and the Epistolary Networks of George Talbot, sixth earl of Shrewsbury’, The Huntington Library Quarterly (forthcoming, 2015).
  • ‘“that thought never ytt entered my harte”: Rhetoricalities of Sincerity in Early Modern English’, English Studies 93:7 (2012), 809-32.
  • ‘Searching for verbal irony in historical corpora (?): a pilot study of mock and scorn in the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse’. Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English, Volume 11: Developing Corpus Methodology for Historical Pragmaticshttp://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/series/volumes/11/williams/ 
  • ‘“I haue trobled wth a tedious discours”: Sincerity, Sarcasm and Seriousness in the Letters of Maria Thynne, c. 1601-1610’. Journal of Historical Pragmatics 11:2 (2010), pp. 169-93.
  • ‘“yr Scribe Can proove no nessecarye Consiquence for you”?: The Social and Linguistic Implications of Joan Thynne’s Using a Scribe in Letters to Her Son, 1607-1611’. Women and Writing, c.1340-c.1650: The Domestication of Print Culture. Ed. Phillipa Hardman and Anne Lawrence-Mathers. Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer, 2010, pp. 131-45.

Digital Edition and Transcriptions

  • Bess of Hardwick's Letters: The Complete Correspondence, c.1550-1608, ed. by Alison Wiggins with Alan Bryson, Daniel Starza Smith, Anke Timmermann and Graham Williams, University of Glasgow, web development by Katherine Rogers, University of Sheffield Humanities Research Institute, http://www.bessofhardwick.org
  • The Letters of Joan and Maria Thynne, 1575-1611, plain text and xml transcriptions, Oxford Text Archive, http://ota.ahds.ac.uk/desc/2545