Vice-Chancellor's Fellows - Profile

Profile picDr Seán Williams

Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Schools of Languages and Cultures

Personal Profile

I work on German and Comparative Literature, and increasingly Cultural History — with interdisciplinary interests. My writing ranges from eighteenth-century print culture, authors such as Goethe, Hegel or Laurence Sterne, through to a cultural history of the hairdresser (the major of turning point of which was around 1800).

I have worked in German and English with cultural historians, philosophers, media scholars and sociologists. I currently collaborate with colleagues in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway as well as the UK. I publish in German as well as in English, because writing internationally is important to me, and is crucial for research in Languages and Cultures.

I was schooled at a Norfolk state comprehensive. I read Modern Languages (German) and Linguistics at Oxford, graduating with Congratulatory First Class Honours and an additional Distinction in Spoken German in 2008. I had spent time studying in Freiburg and Trier, and after my undergraduate degree I won a five-year scholarship package at UC Berkeley, USA. I opted to return to the UK after a year, however (via the Netherlands), and completed an MSt (Distinction, 2010) and DPhil (2014) back at Oxford, both funded by the AHRC. Following Oxford, I was a Visiting Fellow at the Research Centre for Classical German Philosophy at the Ruhr-University Bochum, before taking up a position as lecturer in German and Comparative Literature at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Here I taught at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, in German. I was Swiss Mobility co-ordinator at Bern and have since established an exchange agreement between Bern and Sheffield at undergraduate, postgraduate and staff levels. I am keen to be actively involved in internationalisation initiatives.

I am a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker (2016), speaking about my research on local and national radio, and I have curated an exhibition here in Sheffield. For more details about my academic and public engagement work, please see my staff page in SLC and my personal homepage (links above right).