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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

  • Oxford Abridged Short Talks
  • History of the Eighteenth Century in Ten Poems
  • Cultural Connections: exchanging knowledge and widening participation in the Humanities
  • Great Writers Inspire
  • Musical Abstracts
  • Faculty of English - Introductions
  • The Oxford/Berlin Creative Collaborations
  • TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities
# Episode Title Description People Date
15 Cre-AI-tivity: Blood in a Whatsapp message? This last in our trilogy explores data as the foundation of AI systems. We learn how this enables mapping individual learners' progress and benchmarking in a teaching context, but also how that data exchange raises ethical issues. Abigail Williams, Jussi Ängeslevä, Carl Schoenfeld 28 May 2021
14 Cre-AI-tivity: Hogwarts 4ever? The second in our trilogy of podcasts explores the role AI can play in story creation and development. We learn how machines can extend a fictional story world, as well as our interaction with it. Abigail Williams, Jussi Ängeslevä, Carl Schoenfeld 17 May 2021
13 Cre-AI-tivity: Make the machine work 4u First in a trilogy explores the impact of AI on story creation and reception. We learn how machines enable audiences to experience the humanity of fictional characters. Yet a ‘rhetoric of innovation’ gets in the way of understanding what is happening. Abigail Williams, Jussi Ängeslevä, Carl Schoenfeld 06 May 2021
12 WillPlay: Chat, Play, Learn Shakespeare This podcast explores WillPlay, an AI-powered reimagining of Shakespeare's plays for school students. Abigail Williams, Felicity Brown, Rachael Hodge, Giles Lewin 17 Feb 2021
11 Live Event: The Social Life of Books: A History of Reading Together at Home Part of the Humanities Cultural Programme, one of the founding stones for the future Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities. Abigail Williams, Giles Lewin 15 Sep 2020
10 Creative Commons Drama and the Theatre, 1660-1760 Abigail Williams lectures on the staging of Restoration drama. Abigail Williams 14 Mar 2019
9 Research behind... Understanding Misunderstanding A podcast about a song about the parallels of fake news today and satire in the 18th Century based on research by Prof Abigail Williams at the University of Oxford Abigail Williams 09 Jan 2018
8 Understanding Misunderstanding A song about the parallels of fake news today and satire in the 18th Century based on research by Prof Abigail Williams at the University of Oxford Abigail Williams 16 Oct 2017
7 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
6 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
5 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
3 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
2 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
1 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