Before coming to Anglia Ruskin in 2019, William held posts at King’s College London, the University of Derby, and a Past and Present Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research. His research focuses on the history of feeling from 1600 to the present. His first project was on the history of smell and the book from this project, Smell in Eighteenth-Century England: A Social Sense, was published by Oxford University Press in the Past and Present series in 2019. He is currently working on two projects: a history of sound and feeling in eighteenth-century Britain and a longer project on the senses, impairment, and inequality from 1650 to the present.
William believes that the senses, central to our daily lives, are crucial to understanding the past, comprehending the present, and planning for the future of the globe. Whilst heritage often packages up the sensory past for comfortable modern consumption, the senses have been historically central in framing un-comfortable inequalities. Instead of understanding the past as something to be consumed, William’s research and teaching aims to engage empathy, heighten understanding, and develop the tools for a critical examination of the way people perceive themselves, their environment, and their society through their senses today. Understanding the senses and their history will be crucial in trying to understand and confront contemporary and future inequalities of economic access, political power, environmental change, and health and well-being. A commitment to unveiling that history and making it accessible to a wide variety of audiences underwrites all of William’s work as an academic.