I am a Ph.D. cadidate in English, Literary and Cultural Studies, at Carnegie Mellon University and I am also completing graduate training in digital humanities at the University of Victoria. I’m credentialed in book history, with area concentrations in printed books to 1800 and the scientific book, from the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School. In the fall of 2017, I’ll research as a visiting scholar under Professor Simon Schaffer in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. Currently, I am completing my dissertation, Impolite Science: Print and Performance in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic, which I expect to defend in 2019.

My most recent work on the intersection of Newtonian mechanics, chemico-medical science, and political theory in Tobias Smollett’s The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771) is forthcoming in The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation. My research and teaching interests include British and North American cultural and political history, 1660-1789, the print and performance cultures of eighteenth-century science, transatlantic studies, and digital humanities—the latter with a particular emphasis on network analysis and societal computing. To this end, my ongoing digital humanities project, Buying into Science, uses network analysis to model structural change in the scientific print trade from 1670-1800. I have built a database of producers and consumers of scientific print from the eighteenth century to support this project, harvesting data from subscription lists bound in scientific books, their front and back matter, ample modern resources such as the British Book Trade Index and the English Short Title Catalog, as well as biobibliographies published by P.J. Wallis and many scholars since.

Generous grants and fellowships have supported my traditional research as well as my digital projects. I have received funding from the Smithsonian Institution; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Trinity Hall (Cambridge); Princeton University Libraries; the Huntington Library; the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library (UCLA); the Massachusetts Historical Society; the Bibliographical Society of America; and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

In addition to recent public humanities work in exhibit development and curation for the Posner Center and Fine Arts Foundation, I have also published about my teaching. My recent article in Emerging Learning Design (2017) outlines classroom exercises that blend research methods from bibliography and book history with analytical methods from societal computing. In the past, I have taught gender studies, college composition, and professional writing at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA, and its satellite campus in Doha, Qatar.


Ph.D. Literary and Cultural Studies, Carnegie Mellon University, 2019 (expected) Dissertation: Impolite Science: Print and Performance in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic
Committee: Kristina Straub (chair), Jon Klancher, Chris Warren
Reader: Kathleen Wilson, Stony Brook University

M.A. English Literature, Loyola University Chicago, 2013

B.A. English, University of Texas at Arlington, 2008, cum laude


“Saved by God’s ‘Grease’: The Pathology of Political Bodies in Smollett’s Humphry Clinker,” The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 60.1 (Forthcoming).

“The Social Network of Early English Drama: A Digital Humanities Lesson Plan,” coauthored with Adam Rzepka and Jennifer Royston, Emerging Learning Design 5 (2017) 29-31.


Impolite Science: Print and Performance in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic (PhD thesis, Carnegie Mellon University).

Buying into Science (Digital humanities project in societal computing, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation)

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

Working title: “Virtuous Labor, Vulgar Philosophy,” Southern California EighteenthCentury Group, University of California, Los Angeles (April 19, 2018)


American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies; Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing; Society for Literature, Science and the Arts; Modern Language Association

Pierce Williams

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