Professor Daniel Williams
Personal Chair
English Literature & Creative Writing
Telephone: (01792) 295622
Room: Office - 212
Second Floor
Keir Hardie Building
Singleton Campus

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).


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

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  • 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-M45 Dylan Thomas and the Rise of Welsh Writing in English

    Was Dylan Thomas the beginning (and end?) of Welsh writing in English? If not, then when did it begin? And does it make any difference as to when we suppose it does? What, in any case, is meant by speaking of a Welsh Literature in English? What definition of it can one offer, and what model of such a body of work can one construct? These are the kinds of issues to be considered in this course. It is accordingly subdivided into two sections. The first is concerned with the range of responses to Thomas's writings in Wales itself, and the ways in which he was made to represent the Anglophone literature of Wales in England and the United States. The second considers other possible "beginnings" for Welsh writing in English ( ranging from the Middle Ages to the First World War and to the thirties generation of genius). We conclude by discussing some of the theoretical and cultural isses involved in constructing literary tradition.

  • EN-M80 Practising Ideas: Advanced Research Skills in English / Contemporary Writing / Welsh Writing in English

    This module is designed to introduce you to key practical and conceptual tools necessary for scholarship at Master¿s level and beyond. The aim is for you to gain the competencies and confidence to complete and enjoy the degree. In a seminar and occasional workshop format, you will practise a range of core professional research skills. You will be encouraged to reflect on your own learning and academic development to become a more independent and self-directed lifelong learner. You will produce a Portfolio of assessed work. These activities will support your work in other MA modules, particularly EN-M41 Research Practice and your EN-M31 Dissertation, while also equipping you with a set of transferable skills that are highly valued by many employers.


  • Shakespeare, Race and Minstrelsy: American Culture 1800 -1865 (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Rachel Farebrother
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
  • Beyond the Myth - finding the truth and drama in a biographical screenplay. (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
    Other supervisor: Prof David Britton
  • The philosophy of totalitarianism in twentieth-century literature. (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Steven Vine
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
  • ‘Y Canon Cwiyr’: Ailystyried Llenyddiaeth Gymraeg trwy Theori Gwiyr (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
    Other supervisor: Prof Tudur Hallam
  • Ethnicity, Tragedy and the Intellectual: T. S. Eliot, Raymond Williams and Cornel West (awarded 2019)

    Other supervisor: Prof M.Wynn Thomas
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
  • The Representation of Work and Industrial Relations in the literature of south Wales between the wars (awarded 2018)

    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
    Other supervisor: Prof Kirsti Bohata
  • Raymond Williams and European Marxism: Lukacs, Sartre, Gramsci (awarded 2018)

    Other supervisor: Prof Julian Preece
    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' (awarded 2018)

    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
    Other supervisor: Dr Kathryn Jones