Dr Seán Williams
Vice-Chancellor's Fellow; Member of the University Senate
Impact and Engagement Lead, School of Languages and Cultures
BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker 2016
Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce
Executive board, Association of German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland
Seán has BA (Congratulatory First), MSt, and DPhil degrees from Oxford and has held research positions at the University of California at Berkeley and the Hegel-Archiv of the University of Bochum. Before coming to Sheffield in 2015, he taught German and comparative literature at the University of Bern in Switzerland.
His book Pretexts for Writing (forthcoming from Bucknell UP, 2018) is concerned with print culture around 1800, while his current book project – under contract with Reaktion Books – looks at cultural history since the eighteenth century, through the prism of the figure of the hairdresser. Seán has edited special editions of German Life and Letters (on German literary anthologies 1700-1850) and Oxford German Studies (on post-war literature and institutions), and has published articles on topics ranging from Hitler satires and Trump to post-colonial literature and cliché; early consumerism; literary satire and digestion around 1800; and philosophical contests with the eighteenth-century novel form, among others.
Seán writes in English and in German and is a regular contributor to radio (in both the UK and abroad). His research has also appeared on British television, and in national and foreign newspapers.
Recent writing: a full publications list and links to all media work is on Seán's personal homepage.
'The Celebrification of Adolf Hitler', Celebrity Studies, 8 (4) Forum, 1-5.
‘E.T.A. Hoffmann und die Alltagskultur um 1800’, E.T.A. Hoffmann-Jahrbuch, 7-28.
‘On clichés, post-colonialism and the politicisation of Swiss literature: an interview with Martin R. Dean‘, German Life and Letters, 70.2, 284-290.
With Nora Ramtke, Das Erblühen der Blumenlesen. German Anthologies, 1700-1850, special number of German Life and Letters, 70.1 (2017). See introduction, 1-21. Edited book. (136 pages.)
'Philologische Notizen zu Blähungspulver und Jean Paul', Jahrbuch der Jean-Paul-Gesellschaft, 2016, 183-193.
'E.T.A. Hoffmann and the Hairdresser around 1800', Publications of the English Goethe Society, 81.1 (2016), 54-66.
'C.F. Gellert as Vorredner des Genies', in Matthias Schaffrick and Marcus Willand (eds.), Theorien und Praktiken der Autorschaft (Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2014), pp. 333-362.
With W. Daniel Wilson, Post-War Literature and Institutions, special issue of Oxford German Studies 43.1 (2014). See also preface, 1-3. Edited Book (105 pages).
'Kant's Novel Interpretation of History', Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies, 49.2 (2013), 171-190.
Teaching and Supervision:
Seán teaches the German Enlightenment and Romanticism, Thomas Mann, and contemporary Swiss literature. A new module is in development on the birth of liberalism in the eighteenth century.
Seán is available for postgraduate supervision, and currently supervises two PhD projects: by Jade Johnson (as primary supervisor), and Katherine Calvert (as secondary supervisor).