I develop my projects in progress through regular research talks. Over the past years, I’ve spoken in the UK, Ireland, the US, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Norway – at conferences, conventions (German Studies Association, Modern Languages Association, Association for German Studies, International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies etc.), giving keynotes, and for the Sylvia Naish Prize Lecture (2013). I’m happy to give talks on my research in English or German, and to engage in collaborative, inter-cultural work – including for a public audience.


Exhibitions and Public Talks

A Visual History of the Hairdresser was an exhibition that was on display between Saturday 21 and Saturday 29 May 2016 in Unit 17 at the Forum on Division Street, Sheffield – just along from a barber’s shop. BBC Sheffield covered the exhibition in an interview with me here (from 2:37:50). The pop-up exhibition showcased my ongoing research about the hairdresser’s evolution in society since the eighteenth century. Artistic portraits of Sheffield hairdressers by photographers Shaun Bloodsworth, Anton Want and Nigel Barker were displayed alongside historical prints, from Special Collections at the University of Sheffield as well as from the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University, dating from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. On the 21 and 24 May there were public lectures by me in Sheffield, and on the 24 May was the premiere of the Youtube video – again, made with a local hairdresser and a wig shop. The exhibition is portable, and on tour for public engagement and non-profit purposes!

On 15 November there was another public talk, as part of Sheffield’s Festival of Debate: what can the the history of hairstylists tell us about society today? This followed a public appearance at the Hay festival with the BBC in May.

On 12 November 2016, for example, I contributed to a Sheffield masterclass on German song and poetry from the nineteenth century. So I’m available to give public lectures on a wide range of topics in German cultural history. This particular talk, and some of my publications, led to a Radio 3 feature documentary that I presented in autumn 2017.

From 17-19 March 2017, I spoke at the Free Thinking Festival in Gateshead.

On 4 August 2017 I took part in a discussion as part of BBC Proms Extra on “Sentimentality in the 18th Century”, and today’s “Generation Snowflake”. With the music here (from 42 minutes in) or as a podcast.

In the autumn I was active as a presenter at the Sheffield literary festival, Off The Shelf.

She_Fest Sheffield, 5 March 2018: Wigs and Women’s Stories of Cancer On Screen. Reported in the Yorkshire Post and online. Also given at the University of Sheffield’s 24 Hour Inspire event.

Forthcoming talk:

Proms Plus event, July 2018: discussion on the cultural context of Schubert’s “Wanderer Fantasy”.

Free download: 

As part of my research at Sheffield, and also arising from an MA seminar I gave at Bern, I’ve collaborated with Special Collections at The University of Sheffield Library and a graphic designer (@EmilyJayne1985) to put together a “mini” mobile exhibition on hairdressing and horror. The posters came about to complement a costume display at a study day at Liverpool John Moores University on fashion and Victorian fiction and periodicals in March 2016.

The 3-part poster display is available for free (in PDF format) to anyone wanting to use it, be they barbers themselves, or Victoriana affectionados, or whatever!

Here is a low resolution version of the “main” document for A3 size; the other two A3 docs are blown-up versions of the images on the main poster. Both images are from Sheffield’s Special Collections. If you’d like the full, high-res docs to display, simply shoot me an email: s.m.williams@sheffield.ac.uk 

All I ask is that the credits remain visible and that you tell me where the posters will be used and what for, for recording purposes. This information will significantly help the research project (and interest me!) There are already displays in Sheffield and Oldenburg, Germany.


Hairdressing and horror 1-min

Post: Germanic Studies, School of Languages and Cultures
Jessop West, 1 Upper Hanover Street, Sheffield S3 7RA, UK