I began teaching at Wentworth part-time in the fall of 2012 and have also taught at Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A native of Texas, I grew up in Houston and on a farm outside the city. With family members who are scientists, engineers, designers, and builders, I feel at home among the eclectic interests of Wentworth students.
I earned a bachelor’s degree in the History of Ideas from Princeton University, a master’s in English from the University of Louisville, and a Ph.D. in English from Tufts University. My first book, Hospitality and the Transatlantic Imagination, 1815-1835, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. Taking up Kant’s belief that hospitality is key to world peace, the book explores a range of literary works that resisted the growing nationalisms of the nineteenth century by reimagining scenes of welcome.
In more recent projects, my scholarly focus has shifted toward the eco-historical, exploring Romantic-era origins of the Anthropocene. Work with this emphasis includes conference presentations on Mary Shelley’s novel Lodore and Washington Irving’s A Tour on the Prairies (in both of which the notions of displacement, the national history of the U.S., and nature writing converge), as well as a brief article on the gas illumination of London. Likewise, my teaching and service have reflected this new concern with ecology and sustainability. In 2018, my interdisciplinary course on the global climate crisis of 1816 won the Pedagogy Prize awarded annually by the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism. An essay on the course I've now taught three times on climate change and the humanities will appear in a pedagogy volume forthcoming from the MLA.
Williams has served as Director of the Colleges of the Fenway Center for Sustainability and the Environment. Through work with the consortium, colleagues from Simmons University, Massachusetts Audubon Society, and I received a grant from Bringing Theory to Practice for a project titled “Climate Justice in Environmental Education,” which aims to take undergraduates into Boston Public Schools.
I have presented my work to the Modern Language Association, the American Literature Association, the International Conference on Romanticism, the Nineteenth Century Studies Association, the British Women Writers Conference, and the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism.