Professor Daniel Williams
Personal Chair
English Literature & Creative Writing
Telephone: (01792) 295622

Daniel G. Williams is Professor of English Literature and Director of the Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales at Swansea University. He was educated at the University of East Anglia, Harvard University, and Cambridge University (King’s College). He is the author of Ethnicity and Cultural Authority: From Arnold to Du Bois (Edinburgh University Press, 2006) and Black Skin, Blue Books: African Americans and Wales (University of Wales Press, 2012). He has edited Slanderous Tongues: Essays on Welsh Poetry in English 1970-2005 (Seren, 2010), Canu Caeth: Affro-Americaniaid a’r Cymry (Gomer, 2010), co-edited (with Alyce von Rothkirch) Beyond the Difference: Welsh Literature in Comparative Contexts (University of Wales Press, 2004), and edited a collection of Raymond Williams’s writings, Who Speaks for Wales? Nation, Culture, Identity (University of Wales Press, 2003). He is general editor of the Welsh-language cultural studies series ‘Safbwyntiau’ (2012 - ) and co-edits (with Kirsti Bohata) the CREW series of monographs ‘Writing Wales in English’ (both University of Wales Press). He is also editor of a special edition of Comparative American Studies on ‘The Celtic Nations and the African-Americas’ (2010) and a special edition of Keywords on ‘Raymond Williams in Japan’. (2011). He was a Leverhulme Trust funded Visiting Professor at Harvard University in 2012, and Director of the Centre for Research into the Literature and Language of Wales from 2007-2010. Major research interests include: Welsh literature in Welsh and English, American literature, African-American literature, Celticism, Multilingualism, Transatlantic Literature, Comparative Literature, Nationalism, Ethnicity, New Left, Critical Theory and Intellectual History. He is also saxophonist with the jazz-folk sextet ‘Burum’ who have recorded two albums: Alawon: The Songs of Welsh Folk (Fflach, 2007), Caniadau (Bopa, 2012).

Publications

  1. Wales Unchained: Literature, Politics and Identity in the American Century. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  2. Black Skin, Blue Books: African Americans and Wales, 1845 - 1945. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
  3. Ethnicity and Cultural Authority from Matthew Arnold to W. E. B. Du Bois.
  4. Wales Bird: Dylan Thomas and the American Empire / Aderyn Rhiannon: Dylan Thomas ac Ymerodraeth America. Bethesda: Martin Daws.
  5. (Eds.). Slanderous Tongues: Essays on Welsh Poetry in English 1975–2005. Bridgend: Seren.

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Teaching

  • EN-114 Voices of Poetry

    'Voices of Poetry' is an engaging and exciting module which aims to introduce students to poetry and the various voices it articulates. Taught by well-known poets as well as scholars of poetry, this course will introduce students to a wide range of poetic forms and literary periods, ranging from the medieval lyric to postmodern poetry, from Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath. Particular attention will be paid to the interrelationship between meaning and form, and how rhetorical figures, metre, rhythm, tone, register and the speaker's voice create meaning. 'Voices of Poetry' will also foster an appreciation of how poetic forms are re-written in the socio-historical context in which they were produced.

  • EN-206 Debating Texts: Theory in Literature

    Literature prompts debate, and speaks to us differently depending on the questions that we ask of it. This course looks at how our understanding of meaning in literature changes when we think about critical debates concerning the role of history, language and subjectivity in texts. We take three very different texts from different periods, and look at the ways in which the texts (and debates around them) raise questions of history, language and subjectivity, and how the texts comment on these issues. We begin with a classic of 19th century realism, Charles Dickens's HARD TIMES (1854), move on to the groundbreaking work of modernist experiment, Virginia Woolf's MRS DALLOWAY (1925), and end with a powerful example of postmodern representation, Toni Morrison's BELOVED (1987). The course will be taught by a formal lecture followed by a discussion forum, in which short passages of literary and theoretical text will be read and debated in the lecture theatre.

  • EN-241 Fragments of Union: The Cultural Making and Breaking of Britain

    The nationality question has been a persistent theme in British politics, most obviously in recent decades in relationship to questions of immigration and settlement, Britain¿s membership of Europe, the `troubles¿ and `peace process¿ in Ulster, and the resurgence of forms of devolution and nationalism in Wales and Scotland. This course explores the ways in which the diverse literatures of the British Isles have responded to, and shaped, debates around these issues. The questions asked on the course will include: How does a `four nations¿ approach, well-established in historical studies, function in literary studies? What are the key differences and similarities between the literatures produced in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales? To what extent does literature reflect social identities, and to what extent is it active in their creation? If all identities are in as sense `imagined¿, why have certain kinds of identities been significant in particular periods? Is an aesthetics informed by nationalism inevitably conservative and restrictive? Are linguistically experimental writers always skeptical of collective identities? Are we witnessing the `break up¿ of Britain in contemporary literature, or is Britishness being reconstructed anew?

  • EN-3031 Dissertation - English Literature

    The Dissertation is an optional, two-semester, 40-credit module designed to develop high-level academic skills and intellectual independence in the students. A first-semester skills-building programme will include: research skills, summary skills, bibliographic skills, ability to synthesise succinctly, planning and organisational skills, correct presentation of a thesis and bibliography, presentational skills and public speaking. Students conduct research on a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of the English literature staff. The topic will be devised to fall within staff research and teaching specialisms, broadly defined. Students attend group sessions on research skills in Semesters 1 and 2, and have individual meetings with supervisors in Semester 2.

  • EN-3037 Exodus: Moses and Minority Literature

    The story of Moses and the journey from slavery in Egypt in search of the Promised Land is one of the foundational tales of Western culture, and has been particularly central for minorities. Moses¿ own mixed identity is an important part of the story: he was born a Hebrew, raised as an Egyptian, married a Midianite, and then returned to Egypt to liberate the slaves from whom he had been estranged. The diversity of cultures within the story are not only witnessed by Moses but found within Moses himself. We will read the book of Exodus to see how Moses¿s multiculturalism is handled there, and will draw on the insights of Freud and others in interpreting the text. We will then proceed to analyze the uses to which the story has been put in the African American, Jewish and Welsh literary traditions. The reading for this course is diverse - from the scriptures to hymns and spirituals, from novels to psychoanalytic theory. Why has this story been so influential? To what cultural and political uses has it been adapted? Can this ancient narrative help us recognize, negotiate and understand our own identities and multicultural realities today?

  • EN-3047 Other Tongues: Multilingualism in English Language Literature

    So much of our sense of difference is constructed as we speak. Other Tongues explores the ways in which this phenomenon is represented in English language texts. The course explores the representation of other languages in a range of Anglophone texts, drawing a multi-ethnic set of writers into conversation, including William Dean Howells, Abraham Cahan, Rudolf Anaya, Brian Friel, Alistair McLeod, Alys Conaran, Babsi Sidwa and Gautam Malkani. The first part of the course examines writing that enacts the drama of acquiring and relinquishing language in an America marked by language debates, local colour writing, and nativism. The second part addresses multilingualism in the British Isles. The course concludes by engaging with the role of language in debates on postcolonialism and multi-culturalism. What happens when authors combine other languages with English? Can a text be cosmopolitanism and be exploring a distinctive literary tradition at the same time? How does linguistic difference function in relation to style, plot and characterization? What is the relation between language and race, linguistic intolerance and racism? Is it possible to construct a multilingual national culture? These will be kinds of questions explored on this course. No knowledge of other languages is required. But the course asks us to consider how (and what) we speak affects our ideas of who (and what) we are.

  • EN-M31 Dissertation

    Individual project devised and defined in discussion between supervisor and student.

  • EN-M41 Research Practice in English / Contemporary Writing / Welsh Writing in English

    Supervised project on research methodology in practice. Students build a detailed bibliographical plan for their MA dissertation project.

  • EN-M42 Welsh Identities: literature and nationhood

    What does it mean when we speak of Wales and 'Welshness'? How does the study of literary texts help us to answer such questions? What is the relationship between literature and nationhood? Drawing on a wide range of texts this course begins by exploring the ways in which Welsh national identity has been described and represented by Welsh writers in the twentieth century. We then proceed to explore other kinds of communal identities that have been equally prominent in the ways in which the Welsh have thought of themselves and envisaged their place in the world. We explore how class, gender, religious and ethnic identities have reinforced and challenged an often precarious sense of ' Welshness', and trace the tensions as they take aesthetic form in the writings of Emyr Humphreys, Christopher Meredith, Raymond Williams, Trezza Azzopardi and others.

Supervision

  • ‘Necessary Figures? The Idea of the Intellectual in Twentieth Century Wales. (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof M.Wynn Thomas
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
  • 'An Unwritten Tradition of Welsh Theatre 1900-1950.' (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Kirsti Bohata
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
  • The Representation of Work and Industrial Relations in the literature of south Wales between the wars (current)

    Student name:
    MA
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
    Other supervisor: Prof Kirsti Bohata
  • : Shakespeare, Race and Minstrelsy: American Culture 1800 - 1865 (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Rachel Farebrother
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
  • 'How is Wales depicted in French,German and Dutch travel guidebooks between 1840 and 2010, and in what way do these images differ in their translations? Wales in Continental Guidebooks (1850-2013): A Country on the Imaginative Periphery' (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
    Other supervisor: Dr Kathryn Jones
  • Fianna Fail and the Welsh Nationalist Party: 1926-1946. (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Professor Daniel Sullivan
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof M.Wynn Thomas
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
  • Raymond Williams and European Thought (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Julian Preece
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
    Other supervisor: Prof David Britton