Williams, Hamish

Hamish Williams Foto: privat


Hamish Williams (PhD in Classics, the University of Cape Town, 2017) is a Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of English and American Studies, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany. He has previously taught International Studies at Leiden University, the Netherlands. His research work is spread across the sub-disciplines of Classical reception studies, modern, popular fiction studies, and utopian studies.


Research  Areas and Interests

Classical Reception Inhalt einblenden

My background is in Classical studies (PhD, University of Cape Town (2017); with a research stay at Leiden University; funded by the National Research Foundation of South Africa, the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust). While my doctoral dissertation entailed a close-reading of ancient epic (particularly, the Homeric Odyssey), my research in the past three to five years has gradually veered in the direction of Classical reception, a sub-discipline of Classics concerned with the post-Classical appropriation, reflection, and reimagination of Classical literature and thought. Classical reception itself is a fairly broad field, and my own research to date has tended to focus on the relationship between Classics and modern (from the late nineteenth century), popular literature and culture.

My current research project, which is based in Jena and is funded by an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, aims at exploring classical thought and literature in modern popular/genre fiction, more particularly the fantasy literature of J.R.R. Tolkien. This research project, which commenced formally in October 2019, has led to the publication of several works in important peer-reviewed journals in popular fiction studies, including Tolkien Studies and Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, book chapters, and an edited volume Tolkien and the Classical World.

Utopian Studies Inhalt einblenden

The intersection of Classicism and utopianism forms an important part of my current and future research. Based on my current Humboldt research, I am preparing a proposal for a monograph, The Past Perfect Realms of Tolkien: Classicism and Utopianism, for Bloomsbury Publishing (2022). As the title of the work indicates, the monograph juxtaposes both my previous research expertise in Classical reception studies and popular fiction with my future research orientation in utopian studies. The monograph aims to situate Tolkien as an important thinker in utopian studies because of the diversity, complexity, and of course Classicism in his representations of [im]perfect space.

Another important output of my continuing research in Classical reception studies and utopian studies is the edited volume Sea Utopias and Catastrophes in Ancient Narratives: History, Literature, and post-Classical Receptions, which is currently under review with Liverpool University Press. The volume brings together a number of scholars in different fields of Classics and Classical reception (ancient history, archaeology, art, philology and literature) in order to assess the impact on modern thought of ancient ideas on the sea as a utopic-catastrophic sphere.


Edited Volume

2020. Tolkien and the Classical World, Cormarë Series. Zurich and Jena: Walking Tree Publishers. In press.

Journal Articles

2020. Tolkien’s Thalassocracy and Ancient Greek Seafaring People: Minoans, Phaeacians, Atlantans, and Númenóreans. Tolkien Studies 17. In press.

2019. Acts of Eating in the Apologue: Destruction and Delay. Hermes 147.1: 3-20. SCImago Journal Ranking: Q1-Q2 (2002-2018, in Classics).

2019. “Hercules the Grocer?”: Low-Key Humor in The Twelve Tasks of Asterix. Humor 32.4: 565-583. SCImago Journal Ranking: Q1 (2013-2018, in Literature and Languages).

2018. Mountains in the Apologue: Figures of Isolation in Society, Space, and Time. Scripta Classica Israelica 37: 69-91. SCImago Journal Ranking: Q2 (2018, in Classics).

2018. Polymetic Heroism in the Wanderings of Odysseus, Odyssey 9-12 (the Apologue). Akroterion 63: 1-20. Open access: <https://akroterion.journals.ac.za/pub/article/view/981>.

2014. Role-Playing in Horace’s Ars Poetica: Some Observations into Empathetic Discourse in the Language of the Horatian Teacher Persona. Latomus 73.4: 1060-1063.

2013. Shattering Tradition: A Rejection of Analysis by Genre in Horace’s Ars Poetica. Akroterion 58: 61-77. Open access: <https://akroterion.journals.ac.za/pub/article/view/147>.

Book Chapters

2020. Introduction: Classical Tradition, Modern Fantasy, and the Generic Contracts of Readers. Tolkien and the Classical World, H. Williams (ed.). Zurich and Jena: Walking Tree Publishers. In press.

2020. Tolkien the Classicist: Scholar and Thinker. Tolkien and the Classical World, H. Williams (ed.). Zurich and Jena: Walking Tree Publishers. In press.

2019. Tolkien’s Trolls: Intertextuality in ‘Roast Mutton’ and Monstrous Incarnations after The Hobbit. Lembas Extra 2019: The World Tolkien Built, R. Vink (ed.). Tolkien Genootschap Unquendor. 111-127.

2019. Mountain People in Middle-Earth: Ecology and the Primitive. Sub-Creating Arda: World-Building in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Work, its Precursors, and its Legacies, T. Honegger and D. Fimi (eds.). Cormarë Series No. 40. Zurich and Jena: Walking Tree Publishers. 285-311. See reviews of volume (including discussion of authored chapter): Tolkien Studies 16 (2019): 174-178; Journal of Tolkien Research 7.1 (2019): Article 6: 1-9 (esp. 6, 8).

2017. “Home is Behind, the World Ahead”: Reading Tolkien’s The Hobbit as a Story of Xenia or Homeric Hospitality. Rewriting the Ancient World: Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christians in Modern Popular Fiction, L. Maurice (ed.). Leiden: Brill. 174-197.

2016. Between Exile and Hospitality: The Figure of the Xenos in Tolkien’s Faërie. Tolkien Among Scholars: Lembas Extra 2016, N. Kuijpers, R. Vink, and C. van Zon (eds.). Tolkien Genootschap Unquendor. 177-190.

2014. Rediscovering the Creative Bard (‘Aoidos’): Some Observations into the Artistic Impact of Images, Eikones, upon the Narrative of Homer’s Odyssey IX-XII. Song and Emergent Poetics / Laulu ja runo / Песня и видоизменяющаяся поэтика, P. Huttu-Hitunen (ed.). Kuhmo: Juminkeko. 257-267.

Articles in Society Magazines

2018. Caradhras: Savage Nature Warrior, Servant of Sauron, or Character Projection? A Spatial Study of a Mountain in The Fellowship of the Ring. Lembas 183: 181-188.

Other Publications: Dissertations

2017. The Typical and Connotative Character of Xeinoi Situations across the Apologue: Three Studies in Repetition. PhD thesis. Cape Town: University of Cape Town. Open access: <https://open.uct.ac.za/bitstream/handle/11427/24448/thesis_hum_2017_williams_hamish.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y>.

2011. To What Extent Does Horace Present a Coherent Praeceptor Persona in the Ars Poetica? MA thesis, UCT, Cape Town.

Articles/Chapters Accepted for Publication

2020/2021. “One Must Tread the Path That Need Chooses”: The Choice of Need in Tolkien’s Moria Sequence. Hither Shore.

2020. Westwards, Utopia; Eastwards, Decline: The Reception of Classical Occidentalism and Orientalism in Tolkien’s Atlantic Paradise. Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. Accepted subject to revisions.

Edited Volume in Submission

2021/2022. Sea Utopias and Catastrophes in Ancient Narratives: History, Literature, and post-Classical Receptions. Co-edited with Ross Clare (University of Liverpool). Liverpool University Press.

Articles/Chapters in Submission

2020. Mary Renault’s The King Must Die on Tolkien’s Bookshelf: A Comparative Study in Literary Thought. Subcreatio.

Monograph in Preparation

2022. Tolkien in the Past Perfect: Classicism and Utopianism. Proposal in preparation, Bloomsbury.

Articles/Chapters in Preparation

2020/2021. Environmental Narratives of Nature Fighting Back in ‘Modernist Fantasy’: Nature Heroes, Finite Realms, and Problems of Agency. The Songs of the Spheres: Lewis, Tolkien and the Overlapping Realms of their Imaginations. Zurich and Jena: Walking Tree Publishers.

2020/2021. Classical Literature, A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien, S.D. Lee (ed.). Second Revised Edition, Wiley/Blackwell. (commissioned chapter).

2021. The Minoans after the British Empire (1914-): The Tragic Sea Utopia as a Medium of Post-Imperial Reflection. Sea Utopias and Catastrophes in Ancient Narratives: History, Literature, and post-Classical Receptions, H. Williams and R. Clare (eds.). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Essays in Academic Blogs

2019. Tolkien and the Classics. Classical Reception Studies Network. <https://classicalreception.org/tolkien-and-the-classics/>

2019. The Hospitality Quest: The Homeric Odyssey and Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Fantastische Antike – Antikenrezeption in Science Fiction, Horror und Fantasy. <http://fantastischeantike.de/the-hospitality-quest-the-homeric-odyssey-and-tolkiens-the-hobbit-gastbeitrag-hamish-williams/>

Essays in Society Magazines

2019. Classics in Tolkien and Lewis. Lembas 187: 235-236.

Hamish Williams, Dr.
Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow
+49 3641 9-44593
Raum 621
Ernst-Abbe-Platz 8
07743 Jena
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